Burmese Army Attacks Christians and Destroys Churches in Kachin State

November 8, 2011 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Sinbo DowntownMyanmar, November 02, 2011: The Burmese army has attacked churches and fired at worshippers, while severe restrictions have been imposed on Christian activities, as the military continues its offensive in Kachin state.

On 16 October, soldiers seized control of a church in Namsan Yang village, Waimaw township, where 23 worshippers – mostly women and elderly people – had gathered for a Sunday morning service. Troops fired at the Christians, and when a minister tried to talk to the soldiers, he was hit on the head with a rifle butt, causing him to fall against a concrete wall. The minister and four other men were handcuffed and detained.

The troops continued their march through the village, taking over another church, which was used as a compound for the detainees. The soldiers torched the whole northern part of the village and destroyed both of the church buildings.

In Phakant township severe restrictions have been imposed on Christian activities. Churches have been told that Christians must request permission, at least 15 days in advance, to conduct a range of simple activities, including reading the Bible, conducting a Bible study, holding Sunday school, prayer and fasting. Churches in Burma are already required to obtain permission for any events other than Sunday services, but these new regulations impinge even on the daily, private actions of individual Christians.

Elsewhere, in Sang Gang village, the Burmese army uprooted a large cross from a hilltop where villagers had planned eventually to construct a church; the soldiers used the Christian symbol as a stand for their weapons. The authorities have previously banned the construction of churches in Kachin state.  

MILITARY ONSLAUGHT

The army launched its offensive in Kachin State, which is over 90 per cent Christian, in June; the government broke a 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Organisation, which controls the territory, by attacking ethnic forces.

Soldiers have raped, tortured and killed civilians, used forced labour, set homes alight and pillaged villages.

A 65-year-old Christian pastor was forced to flee his home after soldiers took over the entire village. He said:

The soldiers took all of our belongings. They took 18 motorbikes, one rice mill, and all the buffalo, pigs, chickens, everything. Some people were going to build a house and the soldiers took all their materials. I don’t know how many soldiers are there now, but when the fighting started there were 500 soldiers who came, and now they are living in the village. They are living in our houses.

– barnabas team

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