Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Min Ko Naing: "Conqueror of Kings"

Pastoral formation at St Mary's includes working with the parish Caritas group. Besides helping local families who are struggle with poverty, the Caritas volunteers seek to support others who are thousands of miles away.

On Monday the group watched a presentation about Min Ko Naing, the Burmese student leader who, having spent 15 years in solitary confinement for his peaceful pro-democracy activity, was re-arrested in August 2007 and then last November sentenced to 65 years in prison. His 'crime' was to "to wear white clothes, to call for Buddhist prayers and to organise a letter-writing campaign to inform the generals of the plight of the people."

Members of St Mary's Caritas group have resolved to write letters of support to Min Ko Naing, letters of protest to the Burmese dictatorship, and letters to the UK Foreign Secretary asking HMG to support Burma's prisoners of conscience.

Students at the House of Formation were delighted to learn that in regard to Min Ko Naing's case: "Today [24th March] sees the publication of one of the most important international law judgments in recent years. In a heavily argued case, decided last November but only now made public, the international legal system has ruled in the clearest possible terms that the military regime in Burma has contravened every last vestige of humanitarian law and falls to be condemned in the strongest possible way. Significantly, the tribunal rejected every single one of the Burmese Government's arguments. The regime has been held to be operating entirely outside of the law and its violations of minimum standards of international law are described by the tribunal as 'grotesque'." [Further information]

Meanwhile, Pope Benedict has written: "it is gratifying to note the emergence of new digital networks that seek to promote human solidarity, peace and justice, human rights and respect for human life and the good of creation."

[images: paragraph 26 of the Opinion of the UN tribunal (above), refering to the illegality of the detention of Min Ko Naing (top) and others.]