Christians face “intimidation and violence”

May 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Myanmar, May 18, 2017: Despite Myanmar (Burma) taking encouraging steps towards greater democracy, many of the country’s Christians continue to face severe persecution from the Buddhist majority. The independent United States Commission on International Religious Freedom documented the situation in Myanmar in their latest report, stating that “discriminatory restrictions on land ownership, intimidation and violence against Christians, the forced relocation and destruction of Christian cemeteries, violent attacks on places of worship, and an ongoing campaign of coerced conversion to Buddhism.”

Most of Myanmar’s Christians come from non-Burman ethnic minorities and these groups continue to be singled out. The government’s long-running war against Kachin separatists has “deeply impacted Christian and other faith communities, including by restricting their access to food, shelter, health care, and other basic necessities.” Thousands of Kachin Christians have lost their homes and live in camps.

Children in ethnic minority Christian communities are particularly vulnerable: “there are 33 Na Ta La [Buddhist] schools across the country, more than half of which are in rural, impoverished Chin, Kachin, and Naga areas. The Na Ta La schools offer free education and boarding to children of poor families who might otherwise not have access to education. In return, however, Christian students are not allowed to attend church; must practice or learn about Buddhist worship, literature, and culture; and become initiated into the monkhood or nunhood. Students effectively are cut off from their parents, and upon graduation are guaranteed government employment so long as they officially convert to Buddhism, including on their national ID cards”

– uscirf report 2017

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