Christians under siege in India, Myanmar

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Rising attacks against Christians have triggered alarm in India and Myanmar

UCA News Network
June 17, 2022

 

A Christian group in India has called on the federal government and the judiciary to take immediate steps to curb the rising persecution of Christians. The New Delhi-based United Christian Forum has recorded 207 cases of persecution of Christians this year. The figure was 505 cases in 2021.

Some 57 attacks against Christians occurred in May alone. Apart from physical assaults, Christians endured vandalism, violence against women, forcible closure of churches, disruption of prayers and social ostracism. Most attacks originated from provinces ruled by the far right BJP party.

The UCF pointed out that most cases were related to false allegations over religious conversions. Places of worship and prayer meetings were attacked by religious extremists. Victims say the attackers often act with impunity as local authorities and police turn a blind eye to threats and attacks on Christians.

In the meanwhile India is witnessing large scale protests over a controversial army recruitment scheme brought by the government to replace existing induction. Youths are on the streets damaging public properties and demanding they be given full scale jobs and not temporary ones.

Indian Catholics pray during an annual rally on Palm Sunday in New Delhi on April 4, 2017Indian Catholics pray during an annual rally on Palm Sunday in New Delhi on April 4, 2017. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)

A Catholic church and a few civilian homes were burned down by military troops in Kayah state of eastern Myanmar in the latest attack against Christians. Soldiers set ablaze St. Matthew Church in Dognekhu Parish of Loikaw Diocese on Wednesday.

Soldiers had encamped inside the church and burned it down along with several homes before leaving the area. The attack came amid intense fighting between the military and Karenni National Defense Force in Phrosuo and Demoso townships.

St. Matthew Church in Dognekhu village of Loikaw Diocese seen soon after it was destroyed in a fire started by Myanmar’s military junta on June 15. (Photo supplied)

The military has targeted nine Catholic churches in Laikaw Diocese with artillery shelling and airstrikes since May. Areas in other states with sizeable Christian populations have also come under deadly attacks.

The military has devastated Catholic villages in Bamar Buddhist majority-regions, killing innocent civilians and livestock while burning down homes. The worst attack on May 23 last year left Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Loikaw severely damaged, four Catholics dead and eight wounded in artillery shelling.