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Myanmar troops 'have burned 30,000 homes'

Predominantly Christian Chin state along with Sagaing and Magway regions have been primary targets
This handout photo from Amnesty International taken between June 27 and July 4 and released on July 20 shows a civilian building destroyed after being landmined and burned down by the Myanmar military, according to the rights group, in Daw Ngay Ku village in Hparuso township, in eastern Myanmar's Kayah state

This handout photo from Amnesty International taken between June 27 and July 4 and released on July 20 shows a civilian building destroyed after being landmined and burned down by the Myanmar military, according to the rights group, in Daw Ngay Ku village in Hparuso township, in eastern Myanmar's Kayah state. (Photo: AFP)

Published: August 31, 2022 08:30 AM GMT
Updated: August 31, 2022 08:52 AM GMT

Myanmar’s military junta has burned nearly 30,000 homes in the country during the past 19 months since it overthrew the democratically elected government, according to data compiled by a domestic research group.

Data for Myanmar said in a report released on Aug. 28 that junta soldiers had torched 28,434 houses since the military seized power on Feb.1, 2021.

The highest number of 20,153 houses were destroyed in the Sagaing region followed by 5,418 houses in the Magway region, both Bamar-Buddhist majority areas in central Myanmar.

The predominantly Christian Chin state in the country’s western region witnessed the burning of 1,474 houses. Another 1,389 homes were burned elsewhere.

The three regions are hotbeds of civilian resistance to military rule by the armed opposition People’s Defense Forces (PDF).

The villagers from those regions have witnessed fierce attacks including air strikes, heavy artillery and indiscriminate attacks on civilians that led to thousands of people being internally displaced.

"The junta leader denied committing arson"

At least 500 homes from historic Catholic villages like Chan Thar and Chaung Yoe in the Sagaing region were set ablaze during junta raids in May and June respectively.

Junta soldiers also burned civilian homes and property in Kachin, Kayah and Mon regions, southern Shan state, and in Bago, Tanintharyi and Mandalay regions.

In Chin state’s Thantlang town, hundreds of homes and several churches including Catholic ones were burned down by junta troops from last September to June, according to Church sources and rights groups.

Archbishop Marco Tin Win of Mandalay Archdiocese, which covers the Sagaing region, had called for human dignity and civilian property to be respected amid the junta attacks in several villages in the region.

Noeleen Heyzer, the United Nation’s special envoy on Myanmar, told the military leadership during a visit to the Southeast Asian nation on Aug 16 to not burn down villages and civilian properties.  But the junta leader denied committing arson, claiming they were trying to protect civilians.

Various religious leaders, including Catholic bishops in Myanmar and Pope Francis, have called for the protection of places of worship, hospitals and schools and respect for human life in Myanmar.

The junta forces have repeatedly ignored such calls, by local or international authorities, and chosen not to adhere to international laws or war ethics. Its bloody crackdown against the PDFs shows no sign of abating with the death toll rising to more than 2,200.

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