Burmese community gathers, prays for homeland

Local religious leaders lead a prayer during a meeting Wednesday in support of the local Burmese community during the ongoing military coup in Myanmar.

The Burma Nationals Organization held a prayer meeting Wednesday at Lampkin Park for the local Burmese community amid the ongoing military coup taking place in Myanmar.

On Feb. 1, the army in Myanmar overthrew elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, alleging irregularities in an election swept by her National League for Democracy party in November 2020.

For generations, the country was called Burma, after the dominant Burman ethnic group, The Associated Press reported. But in 1989, one year after the ruling junta brutally suppressed a pro-democracy uprising, military leaders suddenly changed its name to Myanmar.

At home, though, it changed nothing. In the Burmese language, “Myanmar” is the more formal version of “Burma.” The country’s name was changed only in English.

Reuters said Wednesday the death toll from February’s coup officially topped 1,000.

A few dozen individuals with ties to the country gathered and were led through several prayers by local religious leaders.

Cho Ling Kee, president of the Burma Nationals Organization, was also on hand and gave a short speech for those in attendance.

“We are here to pray together for our country Burma,” he said. “Since Feb. 1 of this year it’s been a big mess and chaos in our country. Civil war is going on, and on the other side the COVID-19 virus has been spreading all over the country. The military dictators do not control how the country deals with the virus. We pray for Burma to be safe.”

Cho Ling Kee also said he gives thanks to local citizens and politicians who have been supportive of the local Burmese population and are standing with them during the coup.

“We will do whatever we can do in the future,” he said. “We would like to speak out that the international community would listen to us and help our country in this chaos situation. We want the international community and the United Nations to recognize the National Unity Government (of Myanmar).”

One local member of the Burmese community, Khin Maung Nyunt, said he came to Wednesday’s meeting to show his support of those showing opposition to the military coup.

“They took power by force, and put all the democratic leaders into prison,” he said. “A lot of people who demonstrated peacefully were shot dead. This is the time for our people to either support the regime or those who support democracy. The line has been clearly drawn.”

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

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