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Troops 'beat helper, murder farmer'

Rights group calls on Thein Sein to 'halt military attacks on civilians throughout Burma'

  • Mike MacLachlan, London
  • United Kingdom
  • October 21, 2011
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Myanmar troops have attacked a Catholic church in Kachin state, beating the parish priest's assistant with a rifle butt, the religious rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said today in a statement from the UK.

Later, sources told CSW, troops shot dead a 19-year-old man and, in a separate incident, a farmer.

Soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 438 went into the church in Namsan Yang village, Waimaw township on Oct 16 as 23 parishioners, mostly women and old people, were at Mass, sources told CSW.

They fired at worshippers hiding in the church and when the priest’s assistant, Jangma Awng Li, 49, a father of four, went to speak to them he was struck with a rifle butt and injured his head when he fell. He and four other men were handcuffed and detained by the soldiers.

The troops, later joined by soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 121, marched through the village, still shooting, to the local Baptist church compound.

The detainees, plus four from other villages who had been with the troops for two weeks, were held there overnight. Part of the village was burned and both churches were destroyed, the sources said.

The 19-year-old was shot dead on Wednesday (Oct 19), by men of Light Infantry Battalion121, the sources added. His body was burned and thrown into a mine where he worked.

Troops also shot and wounded a 72-year-old man and burned several houses and at least 21 villagers were detained and used for forced labour.

On October 18 a 19-year-old girl was detained, tortured and gang-raped by soldiers from the same battalion then dumped on the riverbank, the same sources said.

The farmer was killed on Wednesday by troops of Light Infantry Brigade 601 while fishing in Momauk, where about 500 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled the conflict and are seeking temporary accommodation in a church.

“These brutal attacks on religious communities and peaceful civilians stand in stark contrast to the regime’s recent rhetoric about reform and peace building,” said Benedict Rogers, CSW’s East Asia team leader.

“We urge President Thein Sein to call a halt to the military’s attacks on civilians throughout Burma.”

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