Military regime targeting churches and Christian institutions amid reign of terrorChurch groups raise alarm over attacks on Myanmar Christians – UCA News
In this picture taken on May 13, 2018, internally displaced people and local villagers attend a church service in Myitkyina, Kachin state. (Photo: AFP)
By UCA News reporter Published: November 22, 2022 07:04 AM GMT
The leaders of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) have expressed grave concern over recent attacks on a theological seminary and churches in predominantly Christian Kachin and Kayah states.
“The recent attacks on churches and related institutions are emblematic of the deteriorating humanitarian, human rights and political situation in Myanmar since last February’s military coup,” Dr. loan Sauca, general secretary of the WCC, and Dr. Mathews George, general secretary of the CCA, said in a joint statement released on Nov. 18.
“The lives that many in Myanmar had begun to enjoy following the introduction of democratic reforms have again been destroyed and the country devastated.”
They said armed clashes and attacks are now taking place in many parts of the country and since the military coup, “the poverty rate in Myanmar has climbed to close to 50%, and people throughout the country have been reduced to extreme levels of vulnerability.”
The leaders also reiterated and underscored the concerns previously expressed about the ongoing violence — including sexual and gender-based violence — and brutal attacks by the security forces.
They called for the junta “to hand back the control that they have illegitimately seized, to refrain from excessive use of force against protesters, to respect the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, to release all those who have been arbitrarily arrested, denied due process, and who remain in detention, and to allow unconditional and unhindered humanitarian access to all areas and all people affected by conflict and violence.”
The leaders appealed to all members of the international community to show active solidarity and humanitarian support for the people of Myanmar, and “to redouble their advocacy and engagement for justice, peace and the restoration of democracy in Myanmar.”
Churches and related organizations around the world were also urged “to scale up their diaconal support and partnership with the churches of Myanmar in order to help meet increasing community needs.”
The appeal comes as the Southeast Asian nation faces humanitarian, political and economic crises triggered by the military’s seizure of power.
Churches, convents and other Christian institutions have been subjected to air strikes and shelling by the military in the Christian strongholds of Kachin, Kayah, Chin and Karen states.
At least 92 religious or sacred sites across the country, particularly in predominantly Christian Kachin, Kayah and Chin states, were destroyed or damaged between February 2021 and May 2022, according to a report by the International Commission of Jurists which cited news sources released on Oct. 28.
Churches, hospitals and schools in western Chin state are on the list of military targets, according to leaked documents released by the Chin ethnic armed group and local media reports.
Ignoring the appeal by world religious leaders for an end to the violence, the junta has stepped up its reign of terror by raiding many villages and burning homes, destroying property and killing innocent civilians.