Myanmar: 35+ Christians targeted, killed in Christmas massacre

February 16, 2022 by Tim Dustin in Persecution updates

Despite pleas by world and religious leaders for fighting in Myanmar to stop, the country’s military continues to target churches and civilians, especially in the country’s eastern region.

In Myanmar, 2022 has begun with difficult reports from one of Open Doors’ local partners:

“The situation is horrific and life is getting more and more grim for the people in Myanmar,” our partner says. “The believers—in fact all of the civilians—in Myanmar are living in fear. Christians are traumatized by what has been happening, but yes, they are also struggling hard for their survival. Believers are targeted everywhere in the country.”

Christmas massacre

A recent report shared news that on December 24, at least 35 Catholics (including women and children) were killed by Burmese soldiers; their bodies were discovered Christmas Day in burnt-out trucks. A state-run media outlet claimed the soldiers had “opened fire on terrorists and suspicious vehicles.”

However, Cardinal Charles Bo, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM), called the massacre a “heart-breaking and horrific atrocity.” He went on to say: “The fact that the bodies of those killed, burned and mutilated were found on Christmas Day makes this appalling tragedy even more poignant and sickening. As much of the world celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the people of Mo So village suffered the terrible shock and grief of an outrageous act of inhumanity.”

Only days later on December 30, soldiers burned down two churches, totaling across the region 22 churches and 350 civilian homes burned or destroyed by the military between August and December 2021.

During these times of unrest, churches often turn into reception centers for refugees, but because of the severity of fighting, six Catholic parishes in the eastern part region have been abandoned, leading to extreme hunger, cold, poverty and violence and leaving many in dire need of physical aid and spiritual comfort

Many Christians have fled the region to find refuge in neighboring countries.

And even more violence

On January 17, the military launched an air raid on refugee camps, killing three civilians and leaving seven wounded—all believers. Because of these constant attacks, pastors and mission workers have fled to safer places, and as a result, thousands of Christians are now without home, internally displaced inside the country.

Earlier 2021 reports from Myanmar’s western region crystalize the current situation in the west: “The situation is difficult to describe,” Brother Lwin, an Open Doors local partner, reported. “Wherever the military goes, they burn the houses, kill the pigs [which many families rely on for income], and occupy churches … the towns have become completely empty, and there is nowhere to hide but the jungle.”

Despite pleas by world and religious leaders for fighting in Myanmar to stop, the country’s military continues to target churches and civilians, especially in the country’s eastern region.

Why is there such turmoil in Myanmar?

2021 was a momentous year for Myanmar and its Christian community. After a military coup in February 2021, fighting continued in predominantly Christian states like Kachin State, Karen State and Shan State. Churches have been destroyed and Christians killed in Chin State (another majority-Christian region) and churches and pastors have been targeted. More Christians than ever have been driven out to live in camps for displaced people, where they are often deprived access to food and healthcare because of their faith.

Myanmar is primarily Buddhist, with less than 10% of the country’s 55 million citizens identifying as Christian. Myanmar has been an extremely difficult place for Christians to live, and continues to be, especially since the military coup. The country is No. 12 on the 2022 World Watch List.

A call to prayer

As 2022 marches on, Open Doors partner Brother Lwin* continues to ask for prayer for the people of Myanmar:

“Winter season is here. Many believers are without warm clothes, shelter and food. The believers in many areas of Chin State have fled from their native places due to the fighting between the military and the resistance forces. They have become internally displaced in their own country. Please continue to pray for the believers and pray for peace in this country.

Pray for good health, safety, daily food and water.

Pray that God will comfort those who have lost their loved ones and their homes.

Pray for the believers to be strong in their faith. And pray for wisdom for the pastors as they lead the believers through this difficult time.”

Let’s answer Brother Lwin’s* call and compassionately pray for our brothers and sisters in-Christ living in Myanmar.

To stay in-the-loop on immediate prayer requests and news, click here to learn how to download the Open Doors Prayer App. To give and help support our family-in-Christ living in Myanmar and other restrictive countries, click here.

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