Myanmar: Christians Pay the Price of Civil War

October 08, 2021
The Church of the Sacred Heart in Mindat

A rectory, a convent, and a boarding school suffered extensive damage as attacks by the Burmese army intensify in Chin, a predominantly Christian state in northwest Myanmar. Catholics in neighboring India are mobilizing to help the refugees.

Religious buildings located within the grounds of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Mindat (Chin State) were the target of artillery fire during the night of September 22 - 23, 2021: no casualties were to reported, because the faithful had taken refuge in the church.

At the same time, the roof of the boarding school, the presbytery, and the convent were partially damaged.

The attacks of Tatmadaw - the name given to the Burmese regular armed forces - are increasing in this area where the Christian majority rejects the coup d'état carried out on February 1, 2021 by the military junta.

On September 7, the Government of National Unity - a clandestine structure in Chin that began a resistance against the new masters of Rangoon - even declared a general uprising, leading to an intensification of the fighting.

A call that has had no difficulty finding wide response in this fairly new state, created in 1974, whose Chin ethnicity has always been regarded with contempt by the Bamar people, the majority in Myanmar.

That is one reason which explains why Christianity has been able to forge a wide path there, in a country with a Buddhist majority.

For several weeks, in Chin, the shelling and searches of churches have been increasing, priests have been arrested, unarmed Christian civilians have been the target of the security forces, who do not hesitate to desecrate places of worship by setting up their camps there.

This is the result: between 8,000-15,000 people, according to various sources, have already fled the region to seek refuge in neighboring India, more precisely in the state of Mizoram, according to Bishop Stephen Rotluanga.

The bishop of Aizawl, capital of Mizoram, has done everything possible to welcome Christian refugees to his diocese.

The recent release, on September 6, of the Buddhist U Wirathu - a fanatic religious - does not bode well for the Catholics of Myanmar: this man who has contempt for all Burmese religious minorities, Christian or Muslim does not hesitate to present himself to the media as the “Bin Laden of Burma.”