A total of 21 villagers were killed and about two dozen injured when military jets opened fire on four majority Christian villages in Chin State, Myanmar (Burma) in March.
According to eyewitness accounts reported by Barnabas Fund, 12 people were killed in the first attack on two villages in Paletwa Township by Myanmar Army planes on 14 March.
A further eight people died the following day in an airstrike on two other villages. The attacks caused about 2,000 residents to flee to a nearby town, abandoning their homes and livelihoods.
One survivor told Barnabas Fund partners they had to flee their burning home with hardly anything with them, making their way to safety by boat.
The survivor is reported to have said, ‘We did not expect that the military’s fighter jet would shoot into our village. In one family, seven people were killed instantly and only two teenagers, aged 13 and 15, are left – both of them were injured.
‘Some houses were in flames when we left. Three houses were burning. Later we heard all the houses in our village are gone. Thankfully, my parents are safe, but our house was burnt and is gone.’
A local official said the hospital in a nearby town was struggling to cope with the number of injured. On a Facebook post, he commented, ‘We heard the hospital does not have enough medical supplies or doctors, and is in need of support.’
The Chin ethnic minority group are predominantly Christian and have been the subject of intense persecution by the ruling military junta in Myanmar since the 1960s.
When Prime Minister U Nu of Myanmar declared Theravada Buddhism the state religion in the 1960s, the Tatmadaw began trampling on the Chin Christians’ right to worship, and the Burmese government still views them as agents of the West, according to a 2017 Open Doors report.
The Chin State is also the poorest region in Myanmar. According to Unicef, 73 percent of Chin State residents live below the poverty line.