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Church properties bear brunt in battle-ravaged Myanmar

A clergy house, convent and boarding school have been attacked in troubled Chin state

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Published: September 24, 2021 07:59 AM GMT

Updated: September 24, 2021 10:54 AM GMT

Church properties bear brunt in battle-ravaged Myanmar

At least 18 homes and a government building were burned down by the military's heavy artillery fire in Thantlang town in Myanmar's Chin state on Sept. 18. (Photo: AFP)

A clergy house, convent and boarding school have suffered damage as military attacks intensified in Myanmar’s predominantly Christian Chin state.

The buildings located in the compound of Sacred Heart Church in Mindat town were attacked by artillery fire on the night of Sept. 22, said a local source.

Fortunately, no casualties were reported as all the people hid inside the church compound. The roof of the boarding school and a wall and windows of the clergy house sustained damage while the convent was partially hit, he said.

Some civilian homes in the town were also targeted in the attacks, according to local Christian sources and media reports.

Sacred Heart Church falls under Hakha Diocese.

The latest attacks came after fighting intensified between the military junta and local resistance groups including Chin ethnic armed groups.

At least 8,000 people from the town have reportedly fled their homes to nearby villages and Mizoram state in India

The rising conflict in the region has resulted in churches being shelled and raided. Priests and pastors have been arrested while many unarmed civilians, including Christians, have been killed.

The Johnson Memorial Baptist Church in Thantlang town was hit by artillery fire on Sept. 14 night.

At least 8,000 people from the town have reportedly fled their homes to nearby villages and Mizoram state in India following the attack that damaged 19 homes. A Baptist pastor was shot dead by soldiers.

Catholic and Baptist churches in impoverished Chin state were targeted by the military in July and August as soldiers camped in churches and destroyed church property.

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The military has continued its reign of terror in the Southeast Asian nation despite the United Nations warning of a “human rights catastrophe” that showed no sign of abating.

Serious violations have been committed against the right to life, liberty and security of persons, the prohibition against torture, the right to a fair trial, as well as the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly, noted a new report by the UN Human Rights Office.

“The national consequences are terrible and tragic — the regional consequences could also be profound,” said Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, while calling on the international community to “redouble its efforts to restore democracy and prevent wider conflict before it is too late.”

Bachelet cited reports that least 120 people have reportedly died in custody, and some have been denied access to medical treatment. Security forces have used interrogation techniques amounting to torture, including beating detainees and depriving them of food, water and sleep.

She raised concerns about an increase in military activity along with greater resistance by armed groups in the country in recent weeks.

At least 1,100 people have been killed and more than 8,000 people have been detained since Myanmar descended into chaos following the military coup on Feb. 1, according to an independent observer group.

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