07/11/2022 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – More than 132 places of worship have been destroyed by arson and heavy weapons since the military takeover of the Myanmar government in February 2021.
Four regions known to be largely occupied by religious minorities have been targeted, including the Christian majority states, Chin and Kayah, and the Buddhist majority states Sagaing and Magway. These attacks are considered illegal according to the treaties established through the Geneva Convention that endorse the humane treatment of all citizens during war.
In Pale, a town in the Myanmar state of Sagaing, the military junta has carried out heavy attacks against the People’s Defense Force (PDF) which publicly opposes the military coup. As a result of these local attacks, 28 Buddhist temples have been destroyed.
In the predominantly Christian state of Chin alone, over 66 churches have been targeted and destroyed. Kayah, another state with a considerable Christian population, has suffered similar destruction, with over 20 churches damaged.
According to the Chin Affairs Federation, in March, out of the 20-plus pastors arrested, four of them were killed. The federation reported that 12 pastors have subsequently been released while four remain in detention.
A member of the clergy in Kayah state condemned the destruction caused by the military junta, saying that “no matter how intense the war [is], they [the military] cannot attack temples.”
Major General Zaw Min Tun, the junta’s deputy minister of information, has refused to comment on the current situation. In his stead, Aung Myo Min, the Minister for Human Rights of the former Myanmar government (referred to as the National Unity Government), has encouraged civilians to document the harsh realities they have experienced.
Mr. Aung publicly asks civilians to “gather information on all violations and atrocities and crimes — even if it is painful to do so. It is necessary to record exactly what happens and systematically document who the perpetrators are, including from which battalion.”
Such cases are important to document so that evidence of intentional destruction can be used against the military junta in court.
According to Radio Free Asia, in addition to damaging buildings and stealing from religious groups, the military has killed over 2,000 civilians and arrested more than 14,500 people.
For interviews, please contact [email protected].