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Myanmar Archbishop calls for respect for human dignity in conflict

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Archbishop Marco Tin Win of Mandalay calls for respect for human dignity and property as Myanmar’s military junta continues its indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including Catholic villages, amid accusations of war crimes.

Jul 22, 2022

A church destroyed by military forces in Myanmar


By Lisa Zengarini
As attacks on civilians by the military junta in Myanmar continue to escalate, with indiscriminate shelling and shelling, and burning of homes in several parts of the country, Bishop Marco Tin Win of Mandalay calls for respect for human dignity and property.

Catholic villages targeted
In recent weeks, the military junta that took over the reins of power on February 1, 2021, has specifically targeted historic Catholic villages in the Bamar Buddhist heartland of Sagaing, home region of Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, with the aim of crack in the face of growing resistance from the popular defense forces. In the midst of them, the village of Mon Hla, where airstrikes and artillery fire hit a church, a convent and houses, and its inhabitants seek refuge in forests and other safe areas. The army has also stepped up its offensives in neighboring Magwe region and western Chin state, forcing villagers to flee their homes and live in makeshift camps without food.

In a video message quoted by the Ucanews agency, Bishop Tin Win said he was “deeply discouraged to learn of the suffering of thousands of people, especially from the villages, including Catholics whose homes have been burned and properties looted. , and who have become homeless, displaced and in dire need of food and shelter”.

Protecting fundamental human rights must be a priority
The Prelate, also born in the Sagaing region, therefore urged all the fighting parties “not to burn and destroy the homes of civilians and to respect their properties”. “Food, clothing, shelter and health care are basic rights of all human beings and must be given priority,” he said.

“According to the teachings of the Church, human existence and human dignity must be respected”

Bishop Tin Win further remarked that Catholic villagers in the Archdiocese of Mandalay affected by the ongoing conflict have been living side by side with Buddhists peacefully and harmoniously for decades. “They understand and respect each other despite their differences and there have never been any religious conflicts in these villages,” he said.

Amnesty International report on the widespread use of landmines
Meanwhile, in a report released on Wednesday, Amnesty International (AI) accused Myanmar’s military regime of committing war crimes by using large-scale anti-personnel landmines in and around villages in the predominantly state. Christian from Kayah. The human rights organization recalled that anti-personnel landmines are by nature indiscriminate and that their use is internationally prohibited. He said landmines laid by the Tamadaw, Myanmar’s armed forces, have killed and seriously injured civilians and will have significant long-term consequences, including on the ability of displaced people to return home and cultivate their land. .

AI researchers interviewed 43 people in Hpruso and Loikaw townships in Kayah state from June 25 to July 8, where fighting erupted between the army and Karenni armed groups in May 2021. The he army has laid mines in at least 20 villages in Hpruso, Demoso and Loikaw townships in Kayah state in recent months, AI said citing “credible sources”.

Bishops’ repeated calls for non-violence and dialogue
Since the military coup that toppled the now imprisoned democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, junta forces in Myanmar have killed more than 2,000 civilians, arrested more than 14,000, displaced more than 700,000, carried the number of internally displaced persons to more than one million, and plunged the country into an economic and humanitarian crisis threatening the lives of millions of people.

Local church leaders, including the outspoken Charles Maung Bo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM), have repeatedly called for non-violence, dialogue and the restoration of democracy, calling for respect for human life, places of worship, hospitals, and schools. These calls went unheeded even after Cardinal Bo met with the head of Myanmar’s military junta, General Min Aung Hlaing, in December 2021, and the military offensive continued to escalate.–Vatican News