Myanmar: Junta lays landmines around church

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Myanmar’s military junta has laid internationally banned antipersonnel landmines around a Catholic church building it has desecrated and occupied in the ethnic minority Shan state, the Christian Post (CP) reports.

The Buddhist junta overthrew Myanmar’s democratically elected government in a February 2021 coup and has since violently attacked minority faith groups and pro-democracy forces in a concerted deadly effort to impose its control and authoritarian form of Buddhism across Myanmar: the fighting has been concentrated along Myanmar’s borders with India, Thailand, and China.

The junta recently occupied the Mother of God Church in the Pekhon diocese, in southern Shan state’s Mobye town for several days, using it as a kitchen in addition to placing perilous mines around it to deter parishioners that might try to reach the building, CP said.

Prior to the military occupation, the Mother of God church building was used as a shelter during air strikes and military attacks with heavy weapons: over 100 homes in the area were destroyed by the military, and over 5,000 local people were displaced, CP reports. Six parishes in the Pekhon district have been evacuated due to constant attacks by the junta.

Amnesty International reported in July that the junta was committing war crimes by laying huge numbers of internationally banned antipersonnel landmines in and around villages. “At a time when the world has overwhelmingly banned these inherently indiscriminate weapons, the military has placed them in people’s yards, homes, and even stairwells, as well as around a church,” Matt Wells, Amnesty International’s crisis response deputy director, said in a statement.

Myanmar ranks 12th on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted; there are 4.4 million Christians among Myanmar’s population of 55 million.

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