Thousands fled a historic Christian village in the Sagaing Region of Myanmar after it was attacked by the army on 7 May.
At least 20 houses were set on fire during the raid on Chan Thar by the Tatmadaw (military). “It is so sad to hear the houses were burned down and destroyed with an intentional attitude,” said a local church minister.
The village, which has been attacked before by the military, is in a region where Christians and Buddhists have lived peacefully side by side for decades.
Chan Thar and the historic communities of Chaung Yoe and Monhia are known as Bayingyi villages where inhabitants are descended from Christians who settled in the area in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The military attacked Chan Thar in January 2022, killing two villagers, including a mentally disabled resident. Three people were severely beaten and property was looted by the soldiers. Thousands fled the village to safe areas near Mandalay.
In June 2021 dozens of soldiers raided a Chan Thar church and the home of its clergy, arresting six ministers.
The Tatmadaw has also carried out attacks on Chaung Yoe and other Christian villages in the Sagaing Region. In March 2022 a father and son were shot attempting to flee a raid on Chaung Yeo, in which soldiers set a church pulpit on fire and burned at least ten homes.
The military, which seized power in Buddhist-majority Myanmar in February 2021, has for many years persecuted Myanmar’s Christian minority, estimated to make up 6.2% of the population.