Myanmar’s military junta soldiers have reportedly vandalized a church after occupying it in the country’s Christian majority Chin state, said a report by the Chin Human Rights Association.
“Junta troops from Hakha-based LIB#266 vandalized and desecrated a Baptist Church in Tinam Village after they had used the building for overnight shelter last week,” the group posted on its Twitter account.
“The same column of troops burnt down 9 houses in the village, causing the entire community to flee into the jungles,” it added.
A pastor who fled the village told The Chin Journal that about 700 villagers took shelter in a remote forest on March 28, according to a report posted on the website of the International Christian Concern.
“They camped at our churches and broke in every single house in the village,” the report quoted a villager. “They also butchered and ate dozens of domestic animals,” added the villager.
An earlier report by Radio Free Asia in Myanmar said the military junta killed as many as a dozen civilians and arrested nearly 30 others in Magway region in the month of March alone.
The report said junta troops torched more than 700 houses in 18 of the region’s villages over the same period.
Sources in Magway’s Gangaw township told RFA’s Myanmar Service that 10 deaths occurred from February 28 to March 2 as troops raided the villages of Thindaw, Shwebo, Kone and Sann.
The military set more than 200 homes alight in Kone and Sann over the three-day period, villagers said, while a joint squad of some 100 troops and pro-military Pyu Saw Htee militia fighters burned another 200 on March 2 while attacking nearby Pauk township’s Leyar village.
A villager who spoke on condition of anonymity called the violence and destruction “unacceptable.”
“Our houses are antiques, built by hand according to our traditions. … Our house was built with five tree trunks as its pillars and the current market price is no less than 7-8 million kyats (US$4,000-4,500),” he said.
“They attack and destroy everything indiscriminately. How can they believe that destroying the lives and property of ordinary people is justified?”
The resident’s rice mill, which he valued at around 1.5 million kyats (US$850), was also destroyed in the attack.
He said that more than 1,300 villagers were forced to flee the raids and have been living in the mountains ever since, unable to tend their farms. – with a report from RFA