HomeNewsMyanmar junta troops intensify attacks, continue to target Catholic churches

Myanmar junta troops intensify attacks, continue to target Catholic churches

Priests and nuns were reported to have been forced to flee and hide "in a safe place" as troops looted convents

Soldiers of Myanmar’s ruling junta reportedly continued to target and launch attacks on Catholic churches in the country’s Chin State.

Local media reported that troops used “heavy and small weapons” to target churches, including the St. Michael Christian Church and its convent in Kanpalet town.

Priests and nuns were reported to have been forced to flee and hide “in a safe place” as troops looted the convent and took valuables, including cash worth about US$4800, medical supplies, bags of rice, computer, and accessories.

A priest who asked not to be named for security reasons said churches, both Catholic and Protestant, have been repeatedly attacked in recent weeks.

Several structures were heavily damaged by artillery fire while convents and rectories have been looted.

On November 27, soldiers ransacked the St. Nicholas Catholic Church before burning it down in the town of Thantlang. Several houses in town were also reported torched by the soldiers.

According to the Chin Human Rights Organization, at least 220 more homes were destroyed in five straight days of fire between November 25 and 29, bringing the total number of destroyed structures in Thantlang town alone to more than 473.

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The organization said that at least 22 churches have been burned or destroyed by the military in Chin state, a predominantly Christian territory, between August and November.

In the northern Shan state, intensified fighting between the military and the ethnic Kokang forces has driven at least 1,500 villagers to seek shelter in refugee camps near the border with China.

Refugees in the camp are mostly ethnic Kachins, Shans, Ta’ang (Palaung), Lisu and Kokang. They are currently receiving a combination of assistance from Kachin aid groups and international organizations.

Sources told RFA that some of those in the camp are in poor health and most do not have access to medical treatment at either clinics or hospitals.

Myanmar’s military overthrew the democratically elected National League for Democracy government on February 1, claiming the party had stolen the country’s November 2020 ballot through voter fraud.

The junta has yet to provide evidence of its claims and has violently repressed anti-coup protests, killing at least 1,300 people and arresting 7,700 others, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in September that more than 120,000 people have been displaced by fighting since May 21 in Kayah and southeastern Shan states, as well as tens of thousands in Chin, Kachin and Karen states, as well as Magway and Sagaing regions.

In late August, OCHA announced that the number of people who need humanitarian aid in Myanmar had increased to nearly two million since the military coup. Those displaced by the recent fighting join more than 500,000 refugees from decades of conflict between the military and ethnic armed organizations, or EAOs, who were already counted as internally displaced persons at the end of 2020, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, a Norwegian NGO. – with a report from Radio Free Asia

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