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Myanmar: Junta troops storm church, set fire to its pulpit and altar

This raid was ostensibly looking for anti-regime activity, but it is no accident that the church was targeted: Myanmar is another country in which Christianity is seen as a foreign faith. Christians make up about 8.2 percent of the population of Myanmar. Most of these Christians are Protestants, with Roman Catholics comprising most of the rest; there is, however, a small community of Christians who belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, which broke communion with Holy Orthodoxy after the fourth ecumenical council, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, over its definition of the two natures of Christ, divine and human. Also, 13th century inscriptions in Greek have been discovered in Myanmar, indicating that there may have once been a Greek Orthodox presence there.

For more coverage of the persecution of Christians in Myanmar, see here.

“Junta troops torch monastery and church on same day in raids on villages in Myanmar’s north,” by Ko Cho, Myanmar Now, March 21, 2022:

A Buddhist monastery and a Catholic church were both set on fire when regime forces raided two villages in Sagaing Region’s Taze Township earlier this month, according to local sources.

The attacks, which took place on March 12, targetted the villages of Sein Sar and Chaung Yoe, both located on the road connecting the towns of Taze and Ye-U.

A number of civilians were also killed in the raids, the sources said….

The column then moved south to the predominantly Christian village of Chaung Yoe, where they interrogated three nuns, all in their seventies, at the Mary Help of Christians Church.

A local resident who lives near the church said that the soldiers then set fire to its pulpit and altar, as well as robes and other sacred items.

A 55-year-old man and his son were also shot and killed during the raid, according to the Chaung Yoe resident, who spoke to Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity….

According to the Chin Human Rights Organisation, regime forces destroyed 34 churches and 15 other Christian religious buildings between February 2021 and January 2022.

The junta routinely denies responsibility for the destruction of places of worship, which are often used as shelters by civilians displaced by violence.

Last May, a day after an artillery shell killed four people and injured eight at a church in Kayah (Karenni) State, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, the archbishop of Yangon, released a statement calling on the military to refrain from targeting churches.

Despite not receiving any assurance that such attacks would not happen again, the cardinal controversially met with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing last December for a Christmas celebration.

On Christmas Eve, the day after the meeting, regime troops massacred dozens of civilians, including children and aid workers, in Kayah State’s Hpruso Township.

The incident was one of the most notorious atrocity attacks carried out by the military since it seized power last February.

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