Human rights organisations denounce that dozens of Christian places of worship have been destroyed in the last year.
Since the military coup d'état in February 2021 in Myanmar, when State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were arrested, religious freedom continues to be threatened in the country.
In addition to the dire situation of the Rohingya Muslim minority, several human rights organisations are now also denouncing attacks on Christian and even Buddhist communities, even though Buddhism is the majority religion in the country.
According to the independent media outlet The Irradaway, which covers current affairs in Myanmar and Southeast Asia, the military regime has destroyed over 100 places of worship in the country in the last year.
The Chin Human Rights Organisation and the Karenni Human Rights Group have reported that at least 47 of them are Christian church buildings in Chin and Kayah states, where there is a majority of Christians.
Chin state, which borders India, is the worst affected, with at least 35 church buildings destroyed, in addition to 15 other facilities also linked to Christian communities.
In Kayah, which is in the southwest of the country and borders Thailand, 12 Christian places of worship have been destroyed since the military junta took control of the country in February 2021.
The destruction of Christian places of worship by the military junta over the past year was reminiscent of the worst days of the civil war that began in 1948 and is still raging.
Since the coup, repeated attacks on civilian areas have taken place, such as on the night of 24 December, when the military burned alive a group of 35 displaced persons, including elderly people, children and women, in a village in Kayah.
“They are attacking the churches intentionally to suppress the spirit of Christian people by attacking their sacred churches. I condemn their bad intentions”, a Karenni Christian leade speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasonsr told The Irradaway.
In May 2021, an army attack on Sacred Heart Church in in the capital of Kayah, Loikaw, killed four people sheltering inside and damaged the building's facilities.
The junta justified the action by claiming that the victims were local militia rebels. However, Roman Catholic Cardinal Charles Maung Bo publicly called on the regime to refrain from attacking Christian places of worship.
In addition to reports from local human rights organisations, several organisations and institutions that monitor the state of religious freedom and persecution against Christians around the world also warn about the situation in Myanmar.
The Christian NGO Open Doors, which publishes the annual World Watch List, placed Myanmar higher in its ranking than last year (from 18th to 12th).
“After last year’s military coup, Christians in Myanmar have no choice but find safety in camps for displaced people; but in these camps, Christians are often deprived food and healthcare because of their faith”, stresses Open Doors.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also published a new report last November on the situation of this universal right in Myanmar.
According to USCIRF , “the coup exacerbated already dire religious freedom conditions for Myanmar’s vulnerable ethno-religious communities, including the predominantly Muslim Rohingya and various Christian groups”.
“The Tatmadaw (the Burmese military) has also targeted members of the Buddhist majority who have expressed opposition to the military junta”, it adds.
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