On Sunday, 7 March, hundreds of people from the Melbourne Burmese community gathered together in a park in Melbourne’s west where they held a multi-faith prayer service and fundraising event to both pray and raise funds to support the pro-democracy government in Burma.
Stalls were set up selling noodles, fried snacks, desserts and drinks—all sold to raise a generous total amount of $14,000.
This collective gathering is a momentous one for the Burmese people given that the various ethnic and religious groups that the country is comprised of would normally never gather together as one. Historically, these varying groups were created by the Burmese military to incite ethnic and religious divisions that they used to undermine their democratic opposition.
For the Melbourne Burmese community to stand and pray together was their own act of peaceful defiance against this tactic of division among the people.
Even with the different opinions regarding the current democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi (some believe she’s a heroine for leading the pro-democracy movement while others are deeply suspicious of her ties with the military and her support of the genocidal violence against the Rohingya and Kachin ethnic group), the Burmese community took to prayer as a response to the current happenings back in their home country.
As violence and uncertainty rages on, the Melbourne Burmese community of all ethnic and religious backgrounds continue to stand together in prayer for genuine peace and democracy in Burma.