There are people who risked their lives in order to share these images. They show what some historic church buildings in Myanmar looked like before – and after they were torched by Tatmadaw military troops.
These are not just ordinary parishes. Several are historic jewels that hold great emotional and spiritual value for local Christian communities, many of which include descendants of the Portuguese who arrived in the region almost 500 years ago.
The destruction is the result of deliberate and repeated attacks by the military that seized power from Myanmar’s democratically elected government in February, 2021.
Reliable Catholic sources in the country, which was formally known as Burma, claim that not only churches but entire villages have been razed to the ground and the people forced to flee.
The same sources, which cannot be named for fear of reprisal, say Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dominated the spotlight to the point where Myanmar’s military leaders no longer fear international pressure and can commit abuses and atrocities with impunity.
Back in 2021, the international community strongly condemned the military takeover and the brutal repression that followed. Pope Francis too expressed his solidarity and prayer:
In this very delicate moment I wish to assure once again my spiritual closeness, my prayer and my solidarity, to the people of Myanmar.
Let us pray for Myanmar.
The Pope visited Myanmar in 2017, and met with former Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was the country’s de facto leader at the time. Today, like thousands of activists, protesters, and ordinary citizens, she remains under arrest – and unsure of what the future holds.