Conflicts & War

Myanmar episcopal conference criticizes military attack on church

Bangkok, May 26 (EFE).- The episcopal conference of Myanmar has criticized the military for carrying out an artillery attack against a church in the east of the country that killed four civilians who had taken refuge in the building and injured another eight.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar reminded the military that places of worship, as well as schools and hospitals, are protected under the international treaties of the Hague Conventions.

“The blood that is spilled is not some enemy’s blood; those who died and those who were wounded are the citizens of this country. They were not armed; they were inside the church to protect their families,” Cardinal Charles Maung Bo said in a statement posted late Tuesday on Twitter.

The military fired artillery shells at the Sacred Heart Church in the city of Loikaw, in the east of the country, around 1 am on Monday.

The attack caused extensive damage to the building, which partially collapsed on several people who had sought refuge in the Catholic church amid fighting between the military and armed civilians supported by a rebel group.

“The midnight attack made the hapless people to flee to the jungle (…) Food, medicine and hygiene are urgent urgent needs but there is no way of reaching them. There are many children and old people among them, forced to starve and without any medical aid. This is a great humanitarian tragedy,” the cardinal added.

According to him, more than 20,000 people have been displaced by the recent conflict in Loikaw.

After months of peaceful demonstrations against a coup by the military on Feb. 1, many protesters have decided to take up arms due to the little progress made by protests, strikes and the popular civil disobedience movement.

Some civilians have fled to areas controlled by ethnic guerrillas that have been fighting the military for decades to receive training from them and begin an armed resistance to the military.

At least 827 people have been killed as a result of a brutal crackdown by security forces against peaceful anti-coup protests, according to figures from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

The military, headed by General Min Aung Hlaing, has justified the coup alleging fraud in elections held in November, in which ousted leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi’s party repeated its resounding victory of 2015, with international observers giving a clean chit to the polls. EFE


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