Two young Catholics killed by soldiers: they were giving food to Demoso evacuees
by Francis Khoo Thwe

The church of St. Joseph in Demoso was targeted, after that of the Sacred Heart in Kayantharyar (Loikaw). A volunteer was also killed trying to save some civilians in the midst of a shootout. The death toll as of yesterday stands at 831 people; 4331 people are incarcerated. The French Total and the American Chevron cut some contributions to the junta companies. Activists: it is purely symbolic. The military earns at least $ 3.3 billion in revenue every year.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - Two young Catholics aged 20 and 21 were killed by junta soldiers while they were gathering food for displaced people from Demoso (Kayah state).

For a week in the Kayah State there have been clashes between the security forces and the Karen armed groups, gathered in the Kpdf (Karenni People's Defense Force).

At least 50,000 inhabitants of Demoso, other cities of the Kayah State and northern Shan have fled into the forest due to the clashes that in recent days had already killed nine civilians.

The two young people, Alfred Ludu and Patrick Boe Reh, both from the parish of St. Joseph in Demoso (see photo), had gone yesterday to retrieve food for the displaced for the first time. Not having enough for everyone, they went out a second time. Soldiers waited for them and killed them in the Ngu Palot neighbourhood.

Yesterday morning, the church of St Joseph was also targeted by the junta's artillery.

In previous days, another church, that of the Sacred Heart in Kayantharyar, near Loikaw had been hit, killing four people who had found refuge inside.

Three days ago, Card. Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon, issued an appeal asking to stop the attacks on places of prayer, and called the situation "a great humanitarian tragedy", where the blood of unarmed people, who have taken refuge in church to protect themselves and their families, is spilled.

Yesterday, in the clashes around Demoso, All Lo Sein (also known as Olson), a member of the "Rangers of Free Burma", a multi-ethnic volunteer organization, was also killed. The 24-year-old was shot while trying to shelter some civilians stranded under during a shootout. Olson's funeral (photo 2) and that of the other two young people took place immediately after recovering their bodies.

At the end of yesterday, the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners released the updated death toll and prisoners. Since 1 February - the beginning of the military coup - at least 831 people have been killed until yesterday. In addition to these documented deaths, there are many others not verified at the moment

4331 people are incarcerated, of which only 102 have been tried. There are also arrest warrants for 1881 other activists, who are nowhere to be found or refugees elsewhere.

Meanwhile, following international pressure, the oil and gas giants that do business with the junta, the French Total and the American Chevron, have announced that they will suspend some payments to a gas transportation joint venture, which includes a company linked to the military.

Activists applaud the gesture, but consider it purely symbolic. In fact, the move retains only a small fraction of the junta's earnings which, according to UN calculations, are around 3.3 billion dollars (in 2020). The decision of Total and Chevron does not yet affect the revenues of the junta deriving from the sale of gas, from taxes on oil and gas pipelines, from field operations.