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Another church burns in Myanmar junta's onslaught

A Pentecostal church in predominantly Christian Chin state was set ablaze by the military on Dec. 4

Another church burns in Myanmar junta's onslaught

Myanmar refugees collect water at Pang village in India's eastern state of Mizoram on Sept. 25 after people fled across the border following attacks by Myanmar's military on villages in Chin state. (Photo: AFP)

Published: December 07, 2021 08:36 AM GMT

Updated: December 07, 2021 09:14 AM GMT

As the military junta has escalated its attacks on civilians, houses and churches have been the primary targets in predominantly Christian Chin state in western Myanmar.

A United Pentecostal church and its clergy quarters in the deserted town of Thantlang were set ablaze along with residential homes in an arson attack by the military on Dec. 4, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).

The group said the deserted town once again came under an arson attack when 19 structures were burned down by soldiers.

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The latest attack came just a week after St. Nicholas Catholic Church and several residential buildings were burned down on Nov. 27.

More than 450 houses and five churches have been set ablaze in Thantlang since Sept. 9, according to right groups and local media reports.

At least 22 churches have been burned or destroyed by the military along with more than 350 civilian homes in Chin state between August and November, according to the CHRO.

More than 10,000 residents of Thantlang had already fled as the military targeted homes during indiscriminate shooting and shelling

Christian-majority Chin state has been at the forefront of resistance to the junta and has witnessed fierce attacks by the military including air strikes, heavy artillery and indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Hundreds have been arbitrarily detained and dozens killed.

More than 10,000 residents of Thantlang had already fled as the military targeted homes during indiscriminate shooting and shelling incidents in September.

The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil following the Feb. 1 military coup which toppled the elected Aung San Suu Kyi-led government after ending a 10-year democracy experiment.

Suu Kyi was jailed for two years on Dec. 6 after being found guilty of incitement and breaching Covid-19 rules in a ruling that drew global outrage.

The UN and world leaders have joined with rights groups to denounce the ruling as a sham trial and “politically motivated” charges.

The Nobel peace laureate, who remains popular in the Buddhist-majority country, faces a raft of charges including corruption and could spend the rest of her life behind bars if convicted of all 11 charges.

Ignoring repeated appeals by world and religious leaders including Pope Francis to end the violence, the junta has continued unleashing its reign of terror in villages and ethnic areas where armed resistance has been strongest. 

The coup triggered non-violent nationwide demonstrations which security forces have quelled using excessive force and live ammunition. At least 1,300 people including children have been killed during the 10 months since the coup.

Despite the deadly crackdown, peaceful protests continue in cities and villages, while armed resistance is also growing in several townships including ethnic areas where armed groups have fought for self-autonomy for more than six decades.

UN experts have warned that the impoverished nation is at risk becoming a failed state following widening civil conflict while the humanitarian situation is deteriorating as more than 3 million people are in need of life-saving aid.

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