Sixty-six Christian churches have been burnt down in Kachin state since the conflict erupted in June 2011, according to the Kachin Women's Association of Thailand (KWAT), a figure that is backed by Myitkyina-based Kachin Baptist Convention.
Speaking at a seminar at Chiang Mai University on Friday, Julia Marip of KWAT said that the burning of churches by Myanmar government forces amounts to religious persecution.
Also on Friday, a group of Roman Catholic bishops in Kachin State called for peace.
According to website CatholicCulture, spokesman Bishop Francis Daw Tang of Myitkyina said, “As a church, we walk with our displaced people, watch their lives being destroyed by war, their families fragmented by the depressing life in the displaced camps.”
He accused government forces were waging “unequal warfare” on Christian holy days.
Kwat's Marip said there are now 100,000 people displaced by the conflict in Kachin State, 60,000 of whom are sheltered at the Sino-Myanmar border or other areas under Kachin rebel control, and 40,000 in areas under government control.
Marip said her organization had continuing evidence of systematic rape by Myanmar troops against Kachin and other ethnic women. She said KWAT had recorded 30 incidents where 64 women or girls had been sexually assaulted in Kachin State since the conflict began.
“But there could be many more cases that we have not been able to document,” she said, explaining that NGOs were unable to make contact with many rural areas and villages under government control.
“Half of those women raped were killed afterward,” she said.