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Myanmar: ‘They are attacking the churches intentionally to suppress the spirit of Christian people’

In Myanmar as elsewhere in Asia, Christianity is generally considered to be an alien faith.

Christians make up about 8.2 percent of the population of Myanmar. The overwhelming majority of these are Protestants, with Roman Catholics comprising most of the rest; there is, however, a small community of Armenian Orthodox Christians, and 13th century inscriptions in Greek indicate that there may have once been a Greek Orthodox presence there. 

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

“Over 100 Religious Buildings Destroyed by Myanmar Regime Forces,” The Irrawaddy, March 28. 2022:

…In predominantly Christian Chin State, nearly 35 churches and 15 affiliated buildings were destroyed in junta attacks between February 2021 and January 2022, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization.

In mostly Christian Kayah State in southeastern Myanmar, about 12 churches were destroyed in the same period, the Karenni Human Rights Group said.

In May last year, the regime forces’ continuous shelling of the Sacred Heart Church in Kayah State’s capital Loikaw killed four people taking shelter there, not to mention causing damage to the religious building. The junta’s claim that the building harbored resistance fighters was largely denied by people there. The attack prompted Myanmar’s Cardinal Charles Maung Bo to request that the regime refrain from targeting religious buildings.

But the regime forces ignored the cardinal’s request, shelling one of the main churches in Kayah State’s Demoso Township, the Queen of Peace Church, on June 6.

A Karenni Christian leader said the regime had shelled churches even during times when there was no fighting between junta and resistance forces. Sometime it attacked religious buildings located away from the combat areas, he said.

“They are attacking the churches intentionally to suppress the spirit of Christian people by attacking their sacred churches. I condemn their bad intentions,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

Thantlang has been the worst-affected area in Chin State in Myanmar’s northwest, suffering artillery and arson attacks by the regime 26 times since September last year, forcing residents to desert the town. During the attacks, a Chin pastor was shot dead and his wedding ring cut from his finger by Myanmar junta soldiers when he went outside to help put out fires caused by the military’s shelling. Aerial pictures of the smoldering town with smoke snaking upward to the sky shocked the world. Three churches in the town caught on fire on Oct. 29 alone.

On Nov. 1, Washington condemned the Myanmar junta’s horrific use of violence in Chin State.

The targeting of churches in Kayah and Chin states reflects the regime’s frustration at not being able to assert control in the states despite almost 10 months of intense fighting against Karenni and Chin resistance fighters, during which the regime has resorted to using airstrikes and heavy weapons including artillery….

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