Myanmar Military Burns Church After Killing Pastor
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Christian aid workers said Wednesday that the church was burned down amid further shelling by Myanmar’s military in the west of the troubled Asian nation.
Last week’s attack came months after troops murdered the church pastor, Worthy News learned.
The Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is known, attacked the “deserted town of Thantlang in Christian-majority Chin State on November 25,” confirmed Christian charity, Barnabas Fund.
The Thantlang Centenary Baptist Church was among at least 49 buildings destroyed by fires caused by the artillery attack, aid workers said.
The church’s pastor, 31-year-old Cung Biak Hum, had been shot dead by Tatmadaw soldiers on September 18, Barnabas Fund told Worthy News.
Pastor Cung was attacked while riding his motorbike towards damaged houses to help bring a blaze caused by an artillery attack under control, the group added.
“After shooting him, soldiers then hacked off his finger to steal his wedding ring,” said Barnabas Fund, which has contacts in the area.
Most of Thantlang’s population of 10,000 had left following earlier artillery strikes, according to local Christians.
Heavy shelling on October 30 reportedly destroyed or damaged more than 160 houses and three church buildings.
In remarks shared with Worthy News, a Thantlang resident, whose house had burned down, complained that “The military is supposed to protect the lives and property of the people. But it is doing the opposite. It is a terrorist army being exploited by a small group.”
The ongoing violence in Chin State has displaced thousands of people, according to Christians familiar with the situation. About 1,800 were fleeing across the Indian border to seek refuge in the state of Mizoram, Christians said.
The Chin population of Myanmar is thought to be at least 90 percent, Christian.
“The Tatmadaw has for many years persecuted the Christian-majority Chin, Kachin, and Karen ethnic groups as well as the Muslim-majority Rohingya,” Barnabas Fund stressed.
Christians have reported an increase in attacks in Myanmar, also known as Burma, following a coup earlier this year in which more than 1,000 people were killed, according to rights activists.
Mass protests have been taking place across Myanmar since the military seized control of the Buddhist-majority country on February 1
Elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party are among those detained by the military despite an international outcry.
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