Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, the highest Catholic Church leader in Myanmar, has warned of the escalating crackdown by the country’s military junta.
A report on Vatican News said Cardinal Bo made the pronouncement during a recent meeting with Australian Church leaders.
“[The military] are trying to intimidate the whole population,” the cardinal was quoted as saying.
He reportedly warned that the military junta is determined to gain undisputed control by year end.
“By the end of the year they presume everything will be quiet again, and they will not have any resistance anymore because of the atrocities and intimidation that the military is carrying out,” said Cardinal Bo.
He said the current situation “is very complex and at the same time very confusing and very unpredictable.”
“Villages are being wiped out and burned,” said the cardinal, adding that 50 percent of the people “are in poverty and at least eight million of them are in dire need for food security and there are millions displaced.”
On Tuesday, August 16, Radio Free Asia reported renewed fighting between junta forces and the Arakan Army in Rakhine and Chin states with at least 10 clashes since July 18.
Junta troops have blocked roads connecting Rathedaung, Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
More than 150 residents from at least three villages have been displaced due to fighting in Rathedaung, locals said.
Clashes between junta forces and the Arakan Army, which wants control of Rakhine state and Paletwa township in Chin state, have been going on for about three weeks, compounding difficulties people are facing because the military has closed all major roads in the area, said a Paletwa resident who declined to be named for security reasons.
Myanmar military and AA forces had fought fiercely in Rakhine from December 2018 to November 2020 over the latter’s demand for self-determination for the state’s Buddhist Rakhine ethnic minority.
But the two sides struck an uneasy truce a few months before the military seized power from a democratically elected government on Feb. 1, 2021 and Rakhine had been quiet amid widespread protests and fighting against the coup and junta across the country of 54 million people.
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