Thousands of Christian villagers fled military bombardment in Karen state on February 1, the same day as the Myanmar leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was ousted from power in a military coup.
The Myanmar army shelled the Papun and Nyaunglebin districts, forcing the mainly Christian ethnic Karen villagers to escape into inhospitable mountainous jungle with what little they could carry.
Since December 2020 the military have increased ceasefire violations in Karen State, attacking villages with shells, mortars and grenade launchers in order to clear land for a programme of building new roads and military installations which began in 2018.
Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in protest since Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, were overthrown only three months after winning a landslide election in November. They have been replaced with a military government headed by Commander in Chief of Defense Services Min Aung Hlaing.
The chief minister of Karen state, Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint, was among those arrested on Monday, February 8, for voicing her opposition to the military coup
For decades, the military-controlled government of Mynamar has brutally oppressed mainly Christian ethnic people groups including the Karen, Kachin and Chin, as well as the mainly Muslim Rohingya people, which include a small minority of Christians.