ecause I am Christian, they made me imitate Jesus on a cross like the crucifixion,” said one Christian describing his treatment by the Myanmar Army (Tatmadaw).
In 87% Buddhist Myanmar (Burma), ethnic Burman identity is tied to Buddhism. Christianity is portrayed as a foreign religion, although there have been Christians in the country since the late 1700s. Most Christians are from non-Burman ethnic minorities including the Chin, Karen and Kachin.
Ethnic minority Christian communities are offered free education at Buddhist schools, but all pupils must study and also practise Buddhism. Those who officially convert will have their national identity cards amended to their new religion and be guaranteed a government job, which are only open to Buddhists.
For decades, the military-controlled government has brutally oppressed Christian and Muslim ethnic minority groups. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, mainly by aerial bombardment. Tens of thousands of Christian survivors are living in IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps.
In 2016, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept to power in the first openly contested elections for 25 years. But internal oppression has continued. An intense upsurge of attacks in predominantly Christian Kachin State came in 2018, causing at least 10,000 Kachin Christians to flee for their lives.
Myanmar’s military campaign against its own citizens was condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in September 2018. The “persecutory intent” and use of “ethnic cleansing” tactics by the Army against the Kachin were described in a UNHRC report that included many testimonies of torture, rape and other abuses by military personnel.
Violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention by the Myanmar government is the subject of an International Court of Justice case in The Hague that opened in December 2019.
Lift up Kachin, Chin, Karen and Naga Christians in Myanmar, and other brutally persecuted minorities. Pray they will be given strength to endure hardship in IDP camps and all who have lost loved ones, some entire families, will be comforted. Ask that military and complicit government leaders will turn in horror from their atrocities.