Easter Massacre in Burma: Burma Army Airstrikes Kill 8 and Wound 18 in a Monastery

Karen State, Burma

31 March, 2024

**This report contains photos that may be disturbing to some viewers

Children fleeing the monastery after the bombing.

Dear friends,

It was Easter morning here in Papun, Karen State, Burma, when the Burma military jets attacked and bombed a monastery where people were in hiding. Fighting between the Burma Army, and Karen and other pro-democracy groups had been going on for two weeks on the southern side of the town and most people had fled. But there were about 200 people who felt that they would be safe in the monastery. Many of them were related to the military and were given assurance they would be safe there. When we went to talk to them, we encouraged them to leave but they said they would be ok. The head monk refused our offer of medicine and help. He seemed to think that the Burma Army would never kill their own people. We told him our experience was otherwise. We prayed with them and said we’d be ready to come and help if anything happened.

It was on Easter Sunday that the jets came, suddenly screaming out of the sky, dropping 500-pound bombs. We first went to the monastery to see how the people there had survived and immediately learned that six people were dead in this first round of strikes. The senior monk had been torn in half. Two other bodies were found later, bringing the total number killed to eight. Another 15 were wounded, and our medics, working with a People’s Defense Force (PDF) group began to help them. Women and children were wailing in the back of the building. They had sheltered there with such faith and were in shock at the sudden violence.

We treated the injured as quickly as we could and moved them out of the monastery. We evacuated the wounded to a casualty collection point while the people in hiding streamed out and fled to other hiding spots. The military jets came in again late that night, and, over the next two days, destroyed the monastery, and all the buildings around it. Back in the casualty collection point, one of the mothers whose 17-year-old daughter was killed, cried in my arms. The mother’s cry pierced our hearts as she spoke of her lost child: “My daughter was such a good girl. She won so many prizes. She wanted to be a doctor. She was the brightest of everyone here. When you were talking to us that first day, she translated everything you said. She was a special young girl for the world. She tried so hard. She tried so hard. My husband was just shot and killed last week by sniper. Now my daughter is dead. Oh, what can I do? What can I do?” She then added, “And then, as we fled, someone even stole all the money that I’d saved. I am so sad. I’m so sad . Oh my dear daughter, my dear daughter.” All we could do was hold her and pray for her and shed tears with her. Having three children, I could feel that pain like a knife in my heart. We gave her money to help make up for the loss and promised we would always be a family to her to help from now on.

The military has been bombing the population with jet fighters as well as transport planes that drop 81 and 120 mm mortars daily. One day, we counted over 300 mortar bombs dropped from transports and nine bombings from jet fighters. This is against their own people.

This fatal bombing happened on Easter, a day that we celebrate as Jesus‘ resurrection. Even in the midst of all that, we felt a strange peace of God‘s presence. The things of this world are not forever and that God has a better place for us – but also that Jesus has risen and come back in His spirit to help us make this world on earth as it is in heaven. Nothing done out of love is a waste. We thank God for Jesus, who helps us feel and know that.

The people killed are listed below by name, age and gender:

U May Aung (the monk), 76, male

Thi Thi May, 33, female

Ce Ta Ri Yar, 17, female

Htan San Lwin, 28, male

Myo Min Oo, 40, male

Phoe Thar Htoo, 36, male

Aung Aung, 43, male

One body was unidentified.

Thank you for praying for these people, and all the others who fled. Thank you for helping us help in Jesus’ name.

Thanks and God bless you,

Dave, family and FBR

Families in the monastery cry for loved ones lost right after the bombing.
Mother of 17-year-old pleading for her daughter to live.
Mother of 17-year-old and monk with dead daughter.
Five of the eight killed.
Treating the wounded in the monastery.
Monastery destroyed.
Monastery bombed.
Carrying one of the dead.
Families flee the bombing.
Evacuating the wounded.
Comforting the mother, who lost her 17-year-old daughter and her husband.