With the media having been rightly focused on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, one aspect of the civil conflict that has been regrettably overlooked is the plight of the war-torn nation’s Christian population.
But while Faithwire has reported on the difficulty faced by Jesus-followers in the northern Kachin State, information has been coming in to suggest that many are being subject to terrible treatment in the eastern Shan State. In a recent interview with UCA News, Rev. Lazarus, the general secretary of the Lahu Baptist Convention in Kyaing Tong revealed that hundreds of Christians had recently been forced to sign papers vowing to restrict the scope of their own Christian faith after being captured by the communist United Wa State Army.
“Christians will face more restrictions and be closely monitored by the United Wa State Army, so the situation is worrisome,” he said.
The rebel army force, which originated as the Communist Party of Burma, announced it had seized the Christians on charges of “extremism and destabilizing its territory,” according to the Myanmar Times.
“We want stability and rule of law in our area, so extremists may be arrested. Such measures are necessary, as we are preparing to celebrate the 30th Peace Festival on April 17 next year and no extremism is allowed,” the militia’s spokesperson, U Nyi Rang, said.
According to the Baptist Convention, the Wa arrested 92 Christians and 41 students of Hotao Lahu Baptist Bible School, before forcing them to serve in the military. The army then released many of the captives, on the condition that they “would pray at home and not in churches.” It was an audacious show of control and manipulation over the people of faith in this turbulent region.
Five churches were also destroyed and 52 Christian schools have been closed, according to the convention.
“I heard that the Lahu bible school will be used as a Wa police station,” said Aaron Maung Maung Tun, director of the publications department of the Lahu Baptist Convention. “We have sent a letter to the Wa but have received no reply.”
Christian persecution watchdog, Open Doors USA, estimates that there are over 4 million Christians currently residing in the Buddhist-majority nation.
“More than 100,000 Christians live in IDP (internally displaced) camps, deprived of access to food and healthcare,” the organization notes on its website. “In some instances, Buddhist monks have invaded church properties and built Buddhist shrines on church premises.”
Please continue to pray for all those suffering from persecution as a result of their religious faith in this extremely unstable country.
(H/T: Myanmar Times)