Bishop Celso Ba Shwe of Loikaw, Kayah state, Myanmar is seen in this file image (Photo: Liokaw Diocese)

By UCA News reporter

Apr 3 2024

MYANMAR – The feast of Easter that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus encourages Christians in Myanmar to cling to hope despite suffering from cruelty, hunger and death amid the ongoing conflict, Bishop Celso Ba Shwe of Loikaw said in his Easter message.

“We must show the world that we are not the people of Good Friday, but the People of Easter. Easter is the reason for our joy, and we are Easter People,” said 59-year-old Shwe.

The bishop was forced to flee his cathedral and official residence in the capital of conflict-torn Kayah state last November due to a military takeover.

“Let us find the Risen Lord in our brothers and sisters who suffered the loss of family members, destruction of houses and properties, who go hungry, and who daily undergo insecurity and uncertainty caused by human atrocities and cruelty,” he said in the message released on Mar 31.

“Through the power and love of the Risen Lord, we will rise again from the ashes of ruins and blows of injustices and build a new Jerusalem!” he said.

The 59-year-old bishop asserted that the greatest and strongest of our yearnings now would be for “a higher life, a life of true peace, the perfect and enduring PEACE which the Risen Jesus can grant.”

Shwe initially fled to the neighboring Shan state to escape military atrocities. He is now based in Sondu parish in Demoso, near Loikaw town, home to thousands of displaced people living in Church-run camps.

Since being uprooted, Shwe has been unable to celebrate Christmas and Easter in his cathedral as required by Canon law.

He has been visiting various camps hosting hundreds of Christians and others who fled deadly fighting between the military junta forces and ethnic rebel groups.

Since last November, about 40,000 out of an estimated 50,000 residents in Loikaw city, have fled their homes after the military launched offensives that included air strikes and shelling against Karenni rebels fighting to take control of the strategically important Loikaw city from the junta forces.

Most people or about 250,000 in Kayah state have been displaced by the conflict since the February 2021 coup and all remain in the camps, aid groups say. They now live in about 200 camps, with at least 80,000 housed in Church-run camps.

Military airstrikes and artillery shelling continue to kill civilians and destroy properties, rights groups say.

At least 10 civilians were killed, 28 were wounded and over 100 properties including 50 civilian homes were damaged due to the military attacks in Loikaw and Demoso in Kayah state in March, according to Karenni Human Rights Group. – UCA News