Christmas Eve Amidst the Echoes of War

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – December 24 Perspective by  MoeMaKa Media

**Christmas Eve Amidst the Echoes of War**

While the majority of Myanmar’s population is not Christian, several ethnic groups within the country, such as the Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Chin, and Lahu, have significant Christian communities. This Christmas Eve, December 24, 2023, unfolds against the backdrop of a nation embroiled in conflict. It marks two years since the harrowing Moso Massacre in Hpruso, Karenni State, where over 30 people, including minors, lost their lives at the hands of military council troops during a violent encounter.

The incident occurred in the wake of the military coup on February 1, 2021, when opposition to the coup, comprised of students, NLD party supporters, and civilians unfamiliar with political strife, began coalescing into armed resistance. In December 2021, as PDF armed groups emerged and initiated attacks, the military council ruthlessly quelled the resistance, resulting in the loss of numerous lives, with the Moso Massacre standing out as the most egregious event. The fact that it unfolded on Christmas Eve adds an extra layer of trauma for the Christian community in Karenni.

Despite the passage of two years, no accountability measures have been taken against the perpetrators, those who issued orders, or those responsible for the Moso Massacre. Presently, armed conflict in Karenni State is escalating, and the military council’s stronghold is gradually diminishing, with the state capital, Loikaw, on the brink of falling.

Two years ago, in mid-December, the military council’s entry and inspection of the new city of Lay Kay Kaw, within KNU Brigade 6’s jurisdiction, triggered armed attacks. The ensuing clashes between the KNU and the military council around Myawaddy Township in Karen State have persisted for the past two years.

As the armed resistance, spearheaded by PDF groups seeking to decisively eliminate the military council’s forces, and the longstanding offensives of ethnic armed groups reach the two-year mark, the military council’s ability to govern and control is severely restricted. Simultaneously, numerous cities are fiercely contending for liberation, with some successfully captured since late 2023.

December 2023 witnesses ongoing armed conflicts in Karenni State, persistent fighting between the TNLA and MNDAA in Northern Shan State along the Chinese border, and clashes in various parts of Rakhine State. On December 24, artillery shelling by a military council battalion struck a neighborhood in Mrauk-U City, claiming the lives of a mother and father while leaving their 5-year-old daughter seriously injured. This tragic incident serves as a stark manifestation of the civil war’s toll.

Attempting to quell a fire that has burned for over 70 years, the military coup of February 1, 2021, appears to have inadvertently added fuel to the flames, igniting conflicts even in regions like Sagaing, Magway, and Mandalay that were previously untouched by war. The nation is now on the path of waging war to dismantle the military dictatorship.

This Christmas marks the third occasion in two years that Christians must observe their most significant celebration amidst the raging flames of war.