Loikaw church closes clinic after military arrests medical staff 

A Catholic church in the Kayah (Karenni) State capital Loikaw was forced to close its charity clinic on Monday following a raid that resulted in the arrest of 18 members of its medical staff.

A source close to the clinic told Myanmar Now that around 200 police and military personnel took part in the raid on the clinic at Loikaw’s Christ the King Cathedral. 

The junta forces arrived at around 9am and remained until 4pm as they rounded up doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers suspected of treating members of anti-regime resistance groups, the source said.

“The clinic had to be closed because they took all of the doctors, nurses and volunteers away,” said the source, who asked not to be identified.

“We also had to move the patients,” the source added, noting that there were 35 in-patients, including four confirmed Covid-19 cases, receiving care at the clinic. 

The 18 detainees were reportedly taken for interrogation at the office of a local branch of the junta-controlled Maternal and Child Welfare Association. They were accompanied by a priest and two nuns, sources said.

According to Karenni media outlet Kantarawaddy Times, all 18 were released at around 6pm on Tuesday.

During the raid, the regime’s forces also searched the residences of clergy members and confiscated a laptop computer belonging to a priest, according to the clinic source.

“Three groups raided the priest’s residence. They came in one after another. The last group to arrive were police officers. The first two were military,” the source said.

“They left no leaf unturned. They ransacked the whole place and went through everything. They completely disregarded people’s privacy. But they didn’t find anything suspicious,” the source added.

The military and police also blocked the roads around the church during the raid, according to the source.

The church’s donation-funded clinic has been operating for 24 years. It has reportedly seen an increase in demand since the February 1 coup, which resulted in the closure of many public hospitals due to the Civil Disobedience Movement.

“We’ve had to serve more people than usual,” the source said, adding that the clinic has also been providing food and shelter for patients who were injured when their homes were torched by troops during raids on local villages.  

At least eight churches in Loikaw, Demoso and Pekhon townships have been destroyed since May 21 due to shelling and clashes between the military and Karenni resistance forces.

On May 24, three women and one man were killed in the Loikaw Township village of Kayan Tharyar (South) while they were sheltering in a church that was hit by an army artillery shell.

Five days later, a man was shot dead in Loikaw during a military raid on the town’s St. Peter’s Seminary.

Related Articles

Back to top button