03/10/2022, 12.48
MYANMAR
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Church and convent bombed in Demoso

This morning the Burmese military junta struck a building used as a respite home and hospital by the Sisters of Reparation. A church was also attacked two days ago. The government of national unity is asking the West for stricter sanctions, as it did against Russia. UN: more than 500,000 internally displaced people and at least 100 houses burnt down.

 

Yangon (AsiaNews) - A Catholic church and convent have suffered serious damage after being bombed. It did not happen in Ukraine, but in Myanmar, where a civil conflict has been raging for over a year.

On 8 March, the Burmese military junta, which overthrew the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on 1 February 2021, carried out an airstrike on the Church of Our Lady of Fatima in the village of Saun Du La, damaging the ceiling and windows.

This morning, it bombed the convent of the Sisters of Reparation, used as a rest home and hospital by the elderly sisters in the village of Doungankha. The church next to the convent had been bombed on 6 June 2021.

Both buildings are located near the town of Demoso, in a region with a Christian majority where the anti-Golpe militia of the People's Defence Forces are fighting against the troops of the Tatmadaw, the Burmese army.

Like in Ukraine, the attack was carried out with the specific aim of terrorising the civilian population: "There was no armed conflict going on in that area. It was a planned attack against the church and innocent civilians," said one priest.

The Burmese military, supported with armaments by Russian President Vladimir Putin, are also using the same aircraft deployed in Ukraine against the population: the Russian-made M-24 and Sukhoi 30.

And as in the war in Ukraine, the anti-coup forces are demanding a ban on the sale of oil to the Burmese military junta: "Without fuel, the army cannot use its air force," said Zin Mar Aung, foreign minister of the national unity government formed by former deputies of the National League for Democracy (Aung San Suu Kyi's party) now in exile. "If their jets can't fly, they can't bomb. It's very simple."

The size of the Burmese military junta's fuel reserve remains unknown, writes the Wall Street Journal. In recent years, Myanmar has always imported 100 per cent of its fuel from abroad, getting it from Western companies who sold it to middlemen. It used to leave from Singapore, India and Malaysia and arrive at its final destination in Burmese ports. 

Recently, the Council of the European Union has included some Tatmadaw personalities and Burmese state-owned enterprises, including Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (Moge), the national oil and gas company, on the list of sanctioned entities.

In the diocese of Loikaw, in eastern Kayah State, the military junta hit at least eight churches in air strikes, ignoring the bishops' appeals to spare civilians seeking shelter in places of worship. At least 16 out of 38 parishes were bombed, forcing nuns and priests to flee.

The latest UN refugee agency report released earlier this month estimates that the conflict has so far generated over 500,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), an increase of 50,000 in the last week alone. In Loikaw, capital of Kayah State, and in neighbouring Demoso, at least 100 homes have been set on fire.

Faced with this situation, the PIME Foundation has set up the S145 Emergenza Myanmar Fund (in Italian) to help initiatives by local churches, many founded by PIME missionaries before the expulsion of foreign missionaries in 1966. The goal of the campaign is to provide immediate help to thousands of people through the relief network the dioceses of Taungoo and Taunggyi are putting in place.

Many local religious groups have responded to the emergency and in doing so are showing the most beautiful face of Myanmar, that of a people who, despite the suffering that has marked its history, choose the path of solidarity. Aid will be sent to them, starting with basic needs: shelter, food, and a school for children deprived of an education for the past two years because of the pandemic and the war.

Donations can be made out to S145–Emergenza Myanmar:

- directly online at this link (in Italian) choosing S145–Emergenza Myanmar among the projects (progetti);

- by bank transfer payable to Fondazione Pime Onlus IBAN: IT 11 W 05216 01630 000000005733 (it is recommended that a copy of the transfer be sent by email to uam@pimemilano.com indicating name, address, place and date of birth, plus fiscal code if in Italy or equivalent social insurance number in other countries)

- to the postal current account n. 39208202 made out to Fondazione Pime Onlus via Monte Rosa, 81 20149 Milan

- in cash or check by going in person to the Centro PIME in Milan, via Monte Rosa 81 – business hours Monday to Friday: from 9 am to 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm).

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