The Myanmar army – also known as the Tatmadaw – raided church buildings in Kachin state, Myanmar (Burma), on April 3.
Soldiers from the Northern Command conducted searches at three churches in Mohnyin township in order to investigate allegations that Christians were sheltering protest leaders and that church ministers were involved in anti-coup activism.
“It was not a random search. They were thorough, climbed over fences and went into every building in the compound,” said Awng Send, the pastor of one of the churches. “An officer came through the door but did not say a word and went straight to search my house.”
“This is a religious site that shares Christian teachings,” he continued. “If they want to search, they should have sought faith leaders’ approval. Instead, weapon-wielding personnel arrived like they were conducting a military operation.
“It is unacceptable and I strongly condemn it. If they behave like this on religious land, we can’t imagine how they behave in people’s homes. Nowhere is safe.”
The raids come amid ongoing tensions in Buddhist-majority Myanmar since the army seized power in a military coup on February 1.
The Tatmadaw has for many years persecuted the majority-Christian Kachin and Chin people; the Karen ethnic group, which includes a significant number of Christians; and the majority-Muslim Rohingya.
On March 27, Myanmar army fighter jets launched air strikes on a Karen village, killing at least three and injuring eight.