|Church leader calls for end to violence in Myanmar|
By United Methodist News Service*
Oct. 1, 2007 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
United Methodist leader has called upon the denomination’s members and
partners in mission to advocate against the use of deadly force by the
government of Myanmar.
"I urgently call upon all United Methodists and our partners in
mission to join in prayer for a just peace and a future of freedom in
the country formerly known as Burma," said the Rev. R. Randy Day in a
Sept. 29 statement.
"Let us also urge governments that honor human rights to use their
influence with Myanmar's government to move toward democratic policies
and practices and to refrain from violence in response to the peaceful
The protests began Aug. 19 against the military regime and grew as
Buddhist monks, revered in Myanmar, started leading demonstrations. On
Sept. 26, the military began using tear gas, clubbing and firing upon
the crowds of demonstrators, with the number of deaths undetermined. One
shooting — of Japanese photographer Kenji Nagai — was graphically
captured in a front-page Reuters photograph in the Sept. 28 edition of The New York Times. He later died.
United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambari arrived Sept. 29 in the
Southeast Asian country to ask Myanmar's ruling junta to restrain from
violence. He met the next day with several junta members and detained
opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and was still trying to meet with
the country’s top military leader on Oct. 1, according to The
Day commended U.S. President George Bush for responding with economic
sanctions against high government officials in Myanmar. "China, the
chief trading partner of Myanmar, should also take positive action to
reduce oppression in Myanmar through economic policy," he added. "We
also appeal to the United Nations to exercise all possible avenues to
promote non-violence and freedom in Myanmar."
The Rev. R. Randy Day
He said Christians with whom the board has had contact in Myanmar say
"change is essential, but (they) are hoping for a peaceful, nonviolent
The Methodist Church of Upper Myanmar was founded in Mandalay in 1887
by several British Methodist pastors and later became the Burma
district of the British Methodist Conference.
The smaller Methodist Church in Lower Myanmar, founded by U.S.
missionaries in the late 1800s, split in 1994, but reunited in 2000 and
elected Bishop Zothan Mawia.
Both churches became autonomous when Burma gained independence in
1964. All missionaries left and church-related schools, hospitals and
other institutions were nationalized.
Today, the Methodist Church in Upper Myanmar has 16,677 full members
and 27,610 "total communities," according to its Web site, with 194
local churches, called societies, in eight districts. The
Methodist-related Myanmar Theological College had 97 students during the
2006-2007 school year and is accredited by the Association for
Theological Education in South East Asia.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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