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Myanmar’s military junta intensifies persecution of Christians

The junta has not infrequently targeted Christian areas, and even churches, as it ostensibly hunts for anti-regime activity. It is likely indifferent to pleas not to target churches because in Myanmar as in other countries in the region, 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.

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

“Myanmar’s military junta intensifies persecution,” by Joyce Wu,, February 3, 2023:

Attached to a rope, Dave Eubank rappelled about 40 feet down a well in Karenni State, Myanmar, where he found two skulls—the remains of two brothers. In January 2022, they returned to their deserted village for their belongings, but were killed by the military junta. Wanting to give her brothers a proper burial, their sister, Suliana, asked Free Burma Rangers, the Christian aid organization Eubank leads, to help her retrieve the bodies the troops had tossed.

Members of the Karenni National Defense Force, a resistance group, helped Eubank and his team find a way to the well in the occupied Six-Mile Village without attracting the junta’s attention. By the time Eubank carried the skulls back up in the rice sack attached to his belt, it was already July.

Eubank met Suliana at a camp for internally displaced people. In the country also known as Burma, about 1.2 million people are displaced due to clashes and insecurity. Since the military coup two years ago, more than 2,900 people have been killed in the junta’s crackdown on dissent. Nearly 18,000 have been arrested, including Myanmar’s former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, now serving a 33-year sentence.

On Wednesday’s anniversary of the coup, citizens closed businesses and stayed indoors to protest against the military, leaving streets largely empty. Activists in countries including Thailand, Japan, and the Philippines rallied in solidarity outside Myanmar’s embassies.

To deprive the regime of the means to perpetuate its violence, the United States sanctioned six additional individuals and three entities on Tuesday. They include Myanmar’s election commission, two military-linked mining enterprises and their executives, and current and former junta officials. Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia also sanctioned junta-affiliated individuals and entities.

Since the military takeover, the persecution of Christians has “grown exponentially,” said Eubank, referring to the military attacking churches and killing and arresting pastors. On Jan. 12, Eubank’s team arrived at the village of Lay Wah in Karen State, hours after a military jet dropped two bombs. The airstrikes killed a toddler, her mother, a Baptist pastor, a Catholic deacon, and a villager, and destroyed two churches and a school. The death toll would have been higher, Eubank said, if the villagers hadn’t already been hiding in the jungle.

On Jan. 15, in the predominantly Christian village of Chan Thar, the junta burned down Assumption Church, a 129-year-old Catholic church. Over the last few months, the military has destroyed hundreds of homes during multiple raids on the village….

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