05/13/2022, 15.52
MYANMAR
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Soldiers attack a Christian village in Sagaing

At least 20 houses have been torched in Chan Thar. Some 500 baskets of unmilled rice have been lost and scores of people have been displaced. Soldiers broke in and set fire to houses "for no reason", a local source told AsiaNews. Anti-coup resistance is encountering more and more difficulties.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Myanmar soldiers have recently attacked Chan Thar, a village in Ye U township, in the central region of Sagaing. 

Last Saturday, about 70 soldiers arrived around 10 am; a few hours later they began to burn houses "for no reason", a local teacher told AsiaNews

“They started setting fire to the houses at 2 pm. Next day they burnt houses again at 6 am and left the village 7 am,” she explained.

More than 20 houses were destroyed, along with an office used as a public library. “Houses and properties became ash in front of people's eyes within a few hours," the local source said. “People hid so as not to be harmed.”

What is more, “Around 500 baskets of paddy (unmilled rice), a straw baler, and a rice mill were also burnt down.”

“When villagers came home, they found they were homeless with no place to shelter. Several people have had to move in with close relatives or to other Christian communities.”

The military have attacked Chan Thar, a Catholic village, four times in the past year. Soldiers “always took what they wanted and killed innocent people,” the village teacher said.

Over the past few months, soldiers destroyed the church and arrested a parish priest, along with eight other young clergymen from the Diocese of Mandalay. They were released only after long negotiations.

Chan Thar is the place of origin of Archbishop Alphonse U Than Aung, but over the years it has also offered the diocese many nuns and educators.

Before the coup and the civil war, the village was home to 1,300 people and had 277 houses. News of the attack was reported only after the Internet were restored.

Myanmar has been engulfed in a civil war for more than a year. On 1 February 2021, the country’s Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) carried out a coup d'état against the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently in prison and on trial.

According to The Irrawaddy independent news website, the anti-coup resistance is particularly strong in the Sagaing region, but it is encountering increasing difficulties. In the last 15 months, more than 7,500 homes have been set on fire.

Faced with a situation forgotten by the world, the Fondazione PIME 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 set up by the dioceses of Taungoo and Taunggyi.

Aid will be sent to the many local religious groups who have responded to the emergency to meet basic needs: shelter, food, and schooling 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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