Catholic church burnt down as Burmese army continues assault



Yangon, Burma – Myanmar’s military continues to target churches in predominantly Christian areas of the predominantly Buddhist country, ignoring calls from the Catholic Church and world leaders, UCA News reported.

The latest military assault on Christians in ethnic Myanmar regions is not the first time the minority has been attacked and targeted. UCA News reported that Christians have borne the brunt of the decades-long civil war and have been persecuted by the military, which ruled for more than five decades. The latest attacks have accelerated since the military coup in February.

St. Nicholas Catholic Church in the deserted town of Thantlang in Myanmar’s Chin state was burnt down by the military on November 27, local media reported.

UCA News reported that the Chin Human Rights Organization said the junta set fire to houses in Thantlang on November 26, with fires lit for three consecutive days as soldiers continued arson. Saint-Nicolas would be one of dozens of structures to be destroyed by the fire, according to a human rights group.

The latest attack came days after at least 49 buildings, including the Thantlang Centennial Baptist Church, were set on fire. More than 300 homes, including four churches, have been destroyed by military arson in the city since September.

In the Christian-majority states of Kayah and Chin, more than 130,000 civilians have been forced to seek refuge in churches, convents and makeshift camps even as the army targets priests and pastors, bombs and rampages. churches, UCA News reported.

The Chin State is 85% Christian and has been the state at the forefront of resistance to the military junta; the army responded with fierce attacks, including airstrikes, heavy artillery and indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Hundreds of people have been arbitrarily detained and dozens have been killed. The Chin Human Rights Organization said at least 22 churches were set on fire or destroyed by the military as well as more than 350 civilian homes in the state between August and November.

Religious leaders, including Pope Francis, have called on the military not to target religious buildings because places of worship are the cultural property of a community covered by international protocols.

After the army bombed the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Pekhon, Shan State, three times in five months, Bishop Peter Hla pleaded with the army to stop.

“Attacking the cathedral is like attacking the hearts of every one of the faithful, and all of the faithful feel sad because of the attacks,” Bishop Hla said in a letter.

Since the conflict escalated in May, the Diocese of Pekhon has been one of the worst affected areas, along with the Diocese of Loikaw in Kayah state, UCA News reported.



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