UCA News
Myanmar continues to be living hell for Christians

The military junta has been accused of abuses against the Christian minority, destroying their churches and targeting clergy

Published: September 16, 2022 11:02 AM GMT

Updated: September 16, 2022 11:08 AM GMT

The attacks on Christians and churches continue unabated in conflict-torn Myanmar. Church sources said soldiers occupied the Mother of God Church in Mobye town, southern Shan state for several days, used it as a kitchen, and laid land mines around the building.

The soldiers retreated from the church this week following casualties from fierce fighting with local people’s defense forces. A viral video on social media showed dirty floors and pews covered with dust along with cooking pots and military uniforms lying inside the church.

Mobye is a Catholic-majority town covered by the Pekhon diocese, where several churches have been targeted and damaged amid fighting between the military and rebel forces.

After the soldiers left, local Catholics have been urged not to go near the church building due to the land mines. Media reports said more than 5,000 people have fled their homes in Mobye town due to heavy fighting. 

Mother of God Church in Mobye town, southern Shan state was desecrated by junta troops who also laid mines nearby

Mother of God Church in Mobye town, southern Shan state was desecrated by junta troops who also laid mines nearby. (Photo supplied)

The Pontificate: Contribute to help UCA News

Leaders of various religions in the Indian national capital New Delhi have taken the initiative to establish peace between Christian and Sikh minorities in Punjab province amid allegations and violence over religious conversions.

New Delhi-based Concerned Citizens Group said on Monday that it organized a meeting with Christian, Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim leaders to find a way out for peace and harmony in the northern state.

Activists from Sikh organizations shout slogans after offering prayers at the Golden Temple on the 38th anniversary of Operation Blue Star in Amritsar on June 6. (Photo: AFP/ UCAN files)

On August 31, masked men vandalized a church in Punjab’s Tarn Taran district, and set the pastor’s car on fire. The attack came after a top Sikh leader condemned alleged forced conversions by Christian groups and demanded a law against such activities.

Earlier, a group of Nihangs, an order of warriors committed to protecting the Sikh religion, disrupted an event organized by Christians at a village in the Amritsar district. Christian rights groups have documented scores of similar attacks against Christians across the country, mostly by Hindu hardliners.

Investigations into the Sri Lankan easter bombings are reaching nowhere. Church officials and rights activists have again called on the government to form an international team of independent experts and investigators to probe the Easter Sunday suicide bombings of 2019. They alleged that President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s announcement to seek assistance from Scotland Yard police in the matter was likely a cover-up.

Wickremesinghe recently disclosed that Scotland Yard has been requested to review the investigation reports to help find out the “hidden hand” behind the bombings.

Demonstrators light candles and flash mobile phone lights during a silent protest to pay respect to the victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombings on the day to mark the third anniversary of the attacks near the president's office in Colombo on April 21. (Photo: AFP)

Oblate priest and rights activist Father Rohan Silva said that investigators involved with the Easter attack probe were transferred by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksha and should be brought back. He demanded a transparent investigation team of foreign and local experts to unravel the truth behind the suicide bombing conspiracy.

Earlier, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry said the then government had prior information about the attack but failed to prevent it. The suicide bombings by Islamic extremists at three churches and three luxury hotels killed 260 people and injured hundreds.

A forum of priests, nuns, laypeople, and activists in Indonesia has urged the Catholic Church hierarchy to tackle sexual abuse seriously and to end the practice of cover-up for the sake of protecting the church’s image.

The organizers of the online event on Friday sought to encourage Church leaders to be proactive in investigating sexual violence within the church, in line with Pope Francis’ zero-tolerance policy.

Speakers during an online forum in Indonesia on Sept. 9 have urged Catholic Church to be proactive and tackle sexual abuse seriously. (Photo supplied)

Jesuit Father Franz Magnis-Suseno said the Indonesian Church was only at the stage of "starting to become aware" of the sexual abuse problem, in contrast to countries in Europe and America, and noted that there are still “strong efforts to deny such cases and to cover up.”

Catholic feminist theologian Agustina Prasetyo Murniati said the hierarchical structure of the church triggers “a very strong pattern of unequal relations” and prevents tackling sexual abuse cases. Since 2021, two Indonesian Christians have been jailed for sexually abusing minors. The forum suggested there are many unreported cases of sexual abuse.

A move in the Philippines to abolish the anti-graft agency that recovered billions of dollars of funds stolen by former dictator Marcos and his family has met with strong criticism. Lawmaker Bienvenido Abante placed a bill in the parliament to scrap the Presidential Commission on Good Government, on Monday.

Established in 1986, the commission has recovered about 5 billion US dollars from the family of current President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and is in a legal battle to retrieve another $2.4 billion.

The logo of the Presidential Commission on Good Government of the Philippines. (Photo: UNTV)

The commission was formed to get back state funds swindled by Marcos Sr., his family members and relatives in the country or abroad.

Catholic group, the Society of Critical Catholics for the Nation, slammed the move to abolish the commission as “an attempt to whitewash history” by the current President. In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that over 25 billion pesos worth of Marcos' assets were considered ill-gotten wealth that should be retrieved by the state.

A rights group has accused China of violating international human rights laws by forcing thousands of alleged fraudsters to return home through threats and punishments to their family members.

Mission In Asia: Contribute to help UCA News

The report titled “110 Overseas: Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild” by Madrid-based Safeguard Defenders is based on Chinese government statements and data available in the public domain, highlighted long-arm policing and transnational repression by the Chinese Communist Party.

President Xi Jinping's war on corruption saw thousands of alleged fraudsters forced to return to China due to abuses of their family members. (Photo: AFP)

It highlighted China’s most widely used method of tracking down the target’s family in China to pressure them through means of intimidation, harassment, detention, or imprisonment into persuading their family members to return “voluntarily.”

Another method involves approaching the overseas target directly through agents or proxies and the third involves kidnapping the target. The report says that China claimed some 230,000 suspects of online and telecom frauds were successfully “persuaded to return” home from April 2021 to July 2022.

Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taek of Seoul Archdiocese met with South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol this week when he urged him to create a national consensus for the country's educational policy to ensure equality.

Archbishop Chung made the remarks when the president visited him last Friday. Archbishop Chung said that it is essential to have an education policy based on consensus and insisted that the recently formed National Education Commission needs to ensure equal representation of various stakeholders.

Archbishop Peter Chung of Seoul and South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol are seen during a meeting in the Seoul Archdiocesan Office on Sept. 9. (Photo: Catholic News of Korea)

Korea launched its National Education Commission in July to devise and implement a National Educational Development Plan for the next 10 years.

Archbishop Chung and President Yoon also discussed the social welfare activities of the Church and the government, and how they could collaborate in various fields. Catholic Church in South Korea is considered a vital player in the country's educational field as it runs hundreds of education institutes including some top-ranking universities.

A court in Cambodia upheld the convictions of former opposition leader Sam Rainsy and 20 of his supporters and former parliamentarians from the outlawed Cambodia National Rescue Party or CNRP on the charge of an alleged attempt to take over the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Phnom Penh Appeal Court ruled to confirm a five to 10 years sentence linked to Rainsy’s failed attempt to return to Cambodia from exile in 2019. As the court decision came, members of CNRP braced themselves for the first mass trial against opposition supporters on Thursday.

Mu Sochua (left), listens as Cambodia's exiled opposition figurehead Sam Rainsy speaks during an interview with Agence France-Presse in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 12, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

The latest case is linked to former CNRP vice-president Mu Sochua and her attempt to return to Cambodia in early 2021. She is one of 34 people charged in court. Eight of them live aboard and are being tried in absentia.

The courts dissolved CNRP in 2017 and enabled Hun Sen’s long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party to win all 125 seats in the 2018 national election and turn Cambodia into a one-party state.

Catholic nuns, priests and laypeople in northern Vietnam celebrated the popular Mid-Autumn festival with dozens of children from poor families last Thursday.

About 50 children joined the festival at Trieu Son parish in Thua Thien Hue province and participated in various activities including games and folk songs. The children also gleefully received moon cakes, milk, colorful balloons, toys, and money from the nuns from the St. Paul de Chartres congregation.

Children from poor families receive gifts from Saint Paul de Chartres sisters to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival on Sept. 8 in Hue. (Photo: UCA News)

Most of the children are from fishing communities who live on boats and collect used items for a living. Some are children of those who suffer from HIV/AIDS.

Earlier in the week, Catholic volunteers held the festival for 100 children with physical disabilities at a Buddhist pagoda. They also offered the children rice, milk, instant noodles, cooking oil, fish sauce, sugar, sweets, and colorful lanterns. Thua Thien Hue province is home to 4,000 children who live in harsh conditions and another 9,000 others from poor families.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
UCA News

Explore UCA News

UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia