The remains of at least 35 civilians who were killed by suspected government soldiers on Christmas eve in Myanmar’s Hpruso township in Kayah state were laid to rest on Wednesday, December 29.
The charred bodies of the victims, including two small children and two local workers of the non-profit Save the Children were found in two trucks on Saturday by militia fighters.
Myanmar opposition activists have blamed the massacre on government soldiers fighting armed resistance opposing the country’s military junta.
Early this week, Martin Griffiths UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, called for “a thorough and transparent investigation” into the incident.
The Catholic Fides news agency quoted local sources in the Diocese of Loikaw that the military have finally allowed the victims’ relatives to access the area and collect the remains.
The parish priest was, however, not allowed to celebrate a funeral Mass, leaving catechists presiding over a simple ceremony instead.
Fides quoted a catechist saying that the community has been terrified and shocked at the cruelty of the attack.
“They were innocent people who were running away from the fighting. The army has become mercilessly and is terrorizing and massacring people,” said the catechist.
The attack, which occurred amid escalating violence in Myanmar following the military coup on February 1 has shaken the people and the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon condemned the massacre in the strongest terms, saying it is “a horrific atrocity.”
While urging the military to stop “bombing, shelling, and killing,” the cardinal also called on the democracy movement and armed ethnic groups “to strive earnestly for peace.” – from a Vatican News report