Christian persecution in Myanmar is mounting with recent attacks against eight churches in the past month.
Battles between the Burmese military and local militias in the country’s states of Kayah and Shan led to the deaths of five civilians who had taken refuge inside several church buildings, International Christian Concern reports.
Houses of worship that have been damaged during the Myanmar military’s attacks include the Golden Temple of Jesus and Jeroblo Marian Shrine and Our Lady of Lourdes Cave in Pekon, Mother Mary’s Church in Moebye, St. Joseph’s Church in Demoso, the Catholic Church in Daw Ngan Khar Village, and St. Peter’s Church in Loikaw.
One priest told Radio Free Asia (RFA), “It’s just a building, but it hurts people in their hearts. Are they just targeting us? I would like to appeal to both sides not to carry out such attacks in future.”
People view churches as a safe place and look for protection inside, which makes the recent attacks even more concerning.
Mu Nang, a Catholic woman who lives in Kayah State, told RFA that she was shocked and saddened by the harm that has been done to these holy places.
“We would rather have our house hit than the church,” she said.
Aung Myo Min, a human rights minister, said: “The attacks on religious buildings is a violation of international laws of war. The shooting of people who are hiding and taking refuge in there is another serious matter.”
Since May 20, the conflict in Kayah state has compelled more than 100,000 residents to abandon their homes and more than 40,000 to look for safety inside 23 churches.
Violence throughout Myanmar has escalated since the military coup with more people fleeing from their homes and seeking shelter along the border of Thailand.
CBN News reported earlier this month that a mother and her four children narrowly escaped from their village after the military invaded their home. Myine told CBN News that her husband, who is a soldier, stayed behind to fight for the rights of the village people.
“We dug holes where we hid most of the time because bullets and bombs fell in our village,” she told CBN News. “The military raided our house and this is when we decided to escape for our safety. We walked for 3 days and crossed the border to Thailand. I am a Christian and I prayed so hard for us to arrive in this camp safely. We had to leave our cows and poultry and now I feel frustrated that we live in shelters of other people and share very limited food.”
Additionally, Myanmar’s military and police forces have opened fire on protesters armed with mere sticks and slingshots, often killing innocent civilians including children.
In the midst of all this military crackdown, the ousted civilian government formed the National Unity Government. Most of its members are under arrest or in hiding.
A majority of the people of Myanmar are hoping that leaders of democratic countries and international communities around the world will recognize it to be the rightful government. And by doing so, stop the Myanmar military from killing their own people.