30,000 and counting … Myanmar’s troops burn homes, churches, villages

Myanmar's burning

Myanmar’s military junta has burned nearly 30,000 homes, churches and villages during the past 19 months.

That’s how long it is since the junta overthrew Myanmar’s democratically elected government.

Domestic research group Data for Myanmar says troops had torched 28,434 houses since the military seized power on 1 February 2021.

This year in May and June alone, at least 500 homes in historic Catholic villages like Chan Thar and Chaung Yoe in the Sagaing region were set ablaze during junta raids.

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

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. Their calls have been ignored.

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. His calls have also been ignored.

In the Sagaing region alone, 20,153 houses have been destroyed. In the Magway region 5,418 houses have been torched. Both regions are Bamar-Buddhist majority areas in central Myanmar.

The predominantly Christian Chin state in the country’s western region has seen 1,474 houses burnt, while another 1,389 have been destroyed elsewhere.

All three regions are hotbeds of civilian resistance to the armed People’s Defence Forces military rule.

Villagers from those regions have witnessed fierce attacks. These include air strikes, heavy artillery and indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

Civilian homes and property in the Kachin, Kayah and Mon regions, southern Shan state and in Bago, Tanintharyi and Mandalay regions have also been targeted.

Thousands of people have been left internally displaced.

Noeleen Heyzer, the United Nation’s special envoy on Myanmar, visited the Southeast Asian nation last month.

During the visit she told Myanmar’s military leadership not to burn down villages and civilian properties.

The junta leaders denied committing arson however. Instead, they claimed they were trying to protect civilians.

Their forces have chosen not to adhere to international laws or war ethics.

The military junta’s bloody crackdown against the People’s Defence Forces shows no sign of abating. So far over 2,200 people have died.


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