At least 21 people were killed by government forces on Saturday in an attack on a Buddhist monastery in Myanmar's southern Shan state, the BBC reported, citing an insurgent group on the ground. The BBC added that the military strike came amid an increase in deadly clashes between the Myanmar military and armed resistance groups.
According to the Karenni Nationalities Defense Forces (KNDF), one of the ethnic militias that oppose Myanmar's military government, government troops shelled the village of Nan Nein in Shan state on Saturday. Military forces then entered the village after the shelling and executed at least 21 villagers whom they found hiding inside a monastery.
"It was as if the (soldiers) lined them up in front of the monastery and brutally shot them all, including the monks," a KNDF spokesman was quoted as saying by local media. (BBC News)
Myanmar's military declared a state of emergency on February 1, 2021, after arresting President Win Myint, State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of the ruling National League for democracy (NLD). The coup took place just hours before the country's new parliament was convened following a general election in November 2020, in which the NLD made substantial electoral gains.
Since the coup, the military-led State Administrative Council has sought to consolidate its grip on power by carrying out violent crackdowns on public dissent and street protests staged in defiance of repression carried out by the army. Even the country's revered Buddhist monastic sangha has found itself in the crosshairs of the military.*
The BBC reported that a video shared by the KNDF militia showed at least 21 bodies, including three in monastic robes, piled up against the monastery. The bodies showed evidence of what appeared to be multiple gunshot wounds, the BBC added.
Despite more than two years of violent repression, the junta continues to face widespread opposition. The crackdown on peaceful protest movements has led a growing number of communities to turn to armed resistance, often with the support of existing ethnic militias.
"Hope is scarce now in Myanmar," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Volker Türk said on March 6, calling for greater international support for the country's citizens. “The constant disregard and contempt for human life and human rights displayed by the military is an outrage to the conscience of humanity. (UN News)
The latest OHCHR report, which covers the period from February 1, 2022 to January 23, 2023, indicates that thousands of people were detained by government security forces, and that dozens of people, including children, were killed in bombings and military strikes.
In addition, some 40 homes have been devastated, eight million children are out of school and 000 million people are deemed by the UN to be dangerously short of food.
"Those who can flee - more than 1,3 million people displaced since the coup - face misery," Türk said. (UN News)
In response to the crisis, the International Network of Engaged Buddhists has partnered with Berkley, California-based Project Clear View to launch an international appeal for emergency humanitarian assistance for Buddhist monks and nuns living in the shadows. of the junta.**
“The International Network of Engaged Buddhists and the U.S.-based Clear View Project are coordinating an urgent appeal to raise funds to support the humanitarian emergency in Myanmar that focuses on Buddhist monks and nuns,” said INEB in a message shared with BDG. "(In February 2021), Myanmar's military staged what it considered a 'quick coup' in which democratically elected members of the government, including President U Win Myint and State Councilor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, were arrested. Since then, the country has been in turmoil and people have responded by organizing a movement of civil disobedience in towns and villages across Myanmar. »
Human rights organization based in Myanmar and Thailand, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), reported that as of March 10, 3 people involved in pro-democracy movements had been killed by the military junta. The AAPP noted that the figure only represented deaths it could independently verify and that the true number was likely much higher. A total of 120 people were detained, including 16 sentenced to death after the coup. A total of 432 people were sentenced to death, some in absentia, the AAPP said.
According to 2016 census data, approximately 90,1% of Myanmar's population identify as Buddhist. Christians represent 6,2%, Muslims 2,4% and Hindus 0,5%, with tribal and other religions representing 0,5%. Groups representing all religious communities, including monks and clergy, took to the streets and demonstrated against the military takeover.
* Buddhist monks targeted in ongoing crackdown by Myanmar military junta (BDG), Myanmar junta drops plan to place Buddhist monks at military roadblocks (BDG)
** INEB and Clear View Project launch humanitarian appeal for Buddhist monks in Myanmar (BDG)