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Myanmar Christians injured in clash led by Buddhist monks


15 January 2019

Two Myanmar Christians were injured when their Christmas preparations were mobbed by locals led by Buddhist monks.

The clash happened on 24 December last year as twelve Christian Chin families set up a tent to celebrate Christmas Day for the first time in the rural village of Sappie, a predominantly Buddhist community in south Rakhine state.

A Christian eyewitness said the mob of about 40 locals was led by three Buddhist monks who ignored pleas to mediate and stepped aside when violence began.

Caption
Displaced Kachin Christians praying together in IDP camp during food distribution

“They told us there was no Christmas celebration in this village before,” he said. “They would not allow a Christian event on Buddhist land. We are very upset about losing our religious freedom and about the restriction of our religious beliefs. We want to celebrate happily like other people.”

The two injured Christians are preparing to file a complaint with police.

Buddhism is the de facto state religion in Myanmar, where the military retains considerable power in Aung San Suu Kyi’s government. This has emboldened ultra-nationalist monks, including members of the extremist Ma Ba Tha group, who have played a key part in inciting violence against Christians and refusing them the right to congregate for worship.