Thousands of Karen Christian villagers flee military bombardment in Myanmar in wake of military coup

9 February 2021

Thousands of Christian villagers fled military bombardment in Karen State on 1 February, 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.

A 93-year-old woman who cannot walk is among the Christians displaced to remote jungle by military bombardment in Karen State [Image credit: Free Burma Rangers]

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 Defence Services Min Aung Hlaing.

The chief minister of Karen State, Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint, was among those arrested on Monday 8 February 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 Karen, Kachin and Chin, as well as the mainly-Muslim Rohingya people which includes a small minority of Christians.

Related Countries

Myanmar (Burma)