Burned churches: Myanmar’s junta accused of abuses against the Christian minority (

Burned churches: Myanmar’s junta accused of abuses against the Christian minority

St Matthew's Church, southwest of Demoso, in flames, on 15 June 2022. The township has been the scene of numerous clashes between the Myanmar army and the Karenni resistance.
St Matthew’s Church, southwest of Demoso, in flames, on 15 June 2022. The township has been the scene of numerous clashes between the Myanmar army and the Karenni resistance. © FBR

Since coming to power in a 2021 coup, the Mynamar military junta has been accused of abuses against the Christian minority, which represents 6% of the country’s population. Local NGOs have condemned the destruction of Christian places of worship.

>> Read on The Observers: How rebel fighters are using 3D-printed arms to fight the Myanmar junta

Images circulating on social networks show churches with smoke-blackened or destroyed walls, debris on the ground, and damaged bibles and other religious symbols.

Photos of Churches with Damaged Walls in Kayah State, June 2021
Photos taken at the United Pentecostal Church in Tlangzar village, Falam township, on 5 May. According to the Chin Human Rights Organization, the NGO that sent us the photos, Burmese junta soldiers burned the church's pastor's quarters and has vandalized the Baptist church three since the coup.
Photos taken at the United Pentecostal Church in Tlangzar village, Falam township, on 5 May. According to the Chin Human Rights Organization, the NGO that sent us the photos, Burmese junta soldiers burned the church’s pastor’s quarters and has vandalized the Baptist church three since the coup. © CHRO

Geolocation here

St Matthew's Church, southwest of Demoso, in flames, 15 June 2022. The town has experienced numerous clashes between the Myanmar army and the Karenni resistance.
St Matthew’s Church, southwest of Demoso, in flames, 15 June 2022. The town has experienced numerous clashes between the Myanmar army and the Karenni resistance. © FBR

The church was in perfect condition in 2018, as this geolocation on google maps shows.

Near the town of Demoso, in Kayah State, all that remains of St Matthew’s Church is a burned-out facade, after the Myanmar army raided it on 15 June 2022. David Eubank, a former Texas soldier and fervent Christian who founded the humanitarian aid association “Free Burma Rangers“, was in Demoso when the clashes between the army and resistance fighters broke out. He told us: “The army was shooting at us, it was hard to see anything. I heard several ‘booms’ and then the church caught fire. Before they left, they [the military] left several anti-personnel mines around the church. A 16-year-old Burmese boy stepped on them, luckily we were able to save him.”

L’église de Saint-Matthieu , le 15 juin 2022. On peut voir les rebelles karenni en tenue militaire .

The St Matthew’s churchgoers live in the jungle, like many Karenni villagers (ethnic group in Kayah State), and pray every Sunday in a makeshift church-school made of leaves and plastic.

>> Read on The Observers:

>> À LIRE SUR LES OBSERVATEURS: Residents of Myanmar’s Kayah State flee to jungle to escape military junta

Several churches have been destroyed in Kayah State villages, where the army has been conducting regular air strikes and ground operations in an attempt to quell resistance from Karenni rebels. David Eubanks told us about several attacks on Christian churches that he and his teams have witnessed.

Impact left after an air strike near Sungdula Church, Demoso Township, Kayah State in March 2022, according to Free Burma Rangers. Photo taken on 27 June by Free Burma Rangers
Impact left after an air strike near Sungdula Church, Demoso Township, Kayah State in March 2022, according to Free Burma Rangers. Photo taken on 27 June by Free Burma Rangers © FBR

David Eubanks filme l’intérieur d’une église dans le village de Sung dula, commune de Demoso (État de Kayah), détruite selon lui par des frappes aériennes de la junte militaire le 8 mars 2022. Selon lui et la presse locale (pro résistance), l’attaque serait survenue alors qu’il n’y avait pas de combats. Une information que nous n’avons pas été en mesure de confirmer de source indépendante.
David Eubanks filme l’intérieur d’une église dans le village de Sung dula, commune de Demoso (État de Kayah), détruite selon lui par des frappes aériennes de la junte militaire le 8 mars 2022. Selon lui et la presse locale (pro résistance), l’attaque serait survenue alors qu’il n’y avait pas de combats. Une information que nous n’avons pas été en mesure de confirmer de source indépendante. © FBR

The state of Chin, located on the Indian border in the west of the country, has also been the scene of clashes between the army and resistance movements. More than 80 percent of the state is Christian.

“The church I went to as a child has been destroyed”

Salai Za Uk Ling is Deputy Executive Director the Chin State Human Rights Organisation (CHRO). He is a Baptist Christian m and along with his team, Salai Za Uk Ling documents abuses committed by the country’s army. They have counted more than 50 church attacks since February 2021 in Chin State, which range from aerial bombardments to ransacking by ground troops.

In churches, the army destroys everything and takes away valuables, including offerings and collection money. This destruction of churches usually occurs when the army moves in convoy through villages.

I was born and raised in Thantlang and the whole town has been attacked more than 30 times, since September 2021. The church I went to as a child was destroyed. The army maintains a presence there and it is dangerous to go back.

Dans la ville de Thantlang, ouest de l’État de Chin, onze églises ont été prises pour cible par la junte selon la Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).

In September 2021, the pastor of a Baptist church in Thantlang was shot by the army while trying to save his burning church after a bombing. His phone book was cut off and his wedding ring stolen, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).

L’armée birmane aurait mis le feu à une église baptiste de la ville de Thantlang, dans l’après-midi du 9 juin 2022, selon la Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO)
L’armée birmane aurait mis le feu à une église baptiste de la ville de Thantlang, dans l’après-midi du 9 juin 2022, selon la Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) © CHRO

Géolocalisation ici

Salai Za Uk Ling added:

[In Chin State], the junta is targeting churches, hospitals and schools… We know from testimonies of former army personnel that the military is instructed to ‘clear anything that might be in their way’. Much of the fighting between the junta and the resistance is taking place where Christian ethnic groups live (Chin, Karen and Kayah states), so many churches and infrastructures have been affected.

On 24 December 2021, Christmas Eve, the army massacred 35 people in a Christian village in Kayah State.

The junta spokesman said that places of worship were not targeted, except during raids, when it had information that “terrorists” (rebels) were hiding inside. Our observer, as well as many other witnesses, have disputed this statement.

When the military arrives in a village, they use churches as a base, because they know that Christians from the resistance forces will not attack them in the church.

Analysts from Myanmar Witness, a project that documents human rights abuses in the country, told the Observers that it is difficult to know whether the churches are being targeted by the Myanmar military on purpose, or whether they are collateral damage from clashes with resistance movements.

“Anything that is not Buddhist can be considered suspicious”

Salai Za Uk Ling has been documenting human rights abuses in Chin State for 27 years, and according to him, this kind of discrimination is nothing new.

Discrimination on the basis of Christian identity has always been a problem for the Chin [and other Christian ethnicities], as has the destruction of Christian buildings. This is a way for them [the army] to physically destroy Christianity. The junta already removed several large crosses from hilltops in the past (the junta was already in power before Aung San Suu Kyi’s party came to power in democratic elections in 2015: Editor’s note). Several religious buildings were also destroyed under previous regimes.

Anything that is not Buddhist can be viewed as suspicious. The Buddhist majority has always been valued, there is a very nationalistic view of religion.


The various ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar have long been discriminated against by successive Buddhist regimes. Foremost among these is the Rohingya Muslim minority, made stateless by a 1982 law and considered one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Since the military coup, the army has also been accused of occupying and burning mosques.

In June, Pope Francis and Myanmar’s Christian religious leaders called on the junta to stop attacking religious buildings.

The Myanmar army is predominantly Buddhist, and has pledged to protect Buddhism, which for our Observers may explain why they have no qualms about attacking churches. The army has also been accused of destroying around 100 Buddhist monasteries.

Photos of a Monastery Destroyed by the Army, according to the Karenni Resistance

1,900 civilians have been murdered by junta soldiers since February 2021, according to a statement by UN Human Rights Council High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, in which she referred to “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” perpetrated by Myanmar’s military.

A Chin pastor who was arrested by LIB 269 on June 27 has been charged under Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code.

Rev. En Khat Muan of Lawibual Baptist Church was arrested together with a local youth leader Lian Sian Mung on accusation that they abetted the resistance group PDF-Zoland in trying to persuade the public to boycott the state-run schools, which were re-opened by the miltiary junta in Tedim in northern Chin State. The pastor was accused of telling his congregation members not to send their children to state-run schools under the military junta.

Lian Sian Mung of the Shalom Youth Committee was released on July 5 after he complied with the order to sign a pledge. However, the Baptist pastor is now being held at Tedim Police lock-up cell where he awaits trial.

Section 505 (b) carries a two-year jail term on conviction and relates to crimes of spreading rumors or false propaganda or inciting the public for violence against the state.

@CHRO|20 July 2022|

(UCA News) — At least 49 buildings including a church have been set ablaze in the deserted town of Thantlang in Myanmar’s western Chin state due to shelling by the military.

Thantlang Centenary Baptist Church — where the slain pastor Cung Biak Hum served as a minister — was burned to cinders on Nov. 25, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization.

More than 160 buildings, including two churches, were set ablaze in the town in late October and soldiers were accused of torching houses at random.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reviewed thermal anomaly data over the town indicating that the city is once again ablaze. The data captured by VIIRS shows active fires in the early hours of Nov. 25, according to Richard Weir, a researcher from HRW.

At least 22 churches have been burned or destroyed by the military along with more than 350 civilian homes in Chin state between August and November, according to local rights groups and Church sources.

The latest military assault on churches and residential buildings came amid growing calls by rights groups and civil society organizations for the UN to take action to stop the military’s violence against the people of Myanmar.

Predominantly Christian Chin state has been at the forefront of some of the strongest resistance to the junta and has witnessed fierce attacks by the military including air strikes, heavy artillery and indiscriminate attacks on civilians while hundreds have been arbitrarily detained and dozens killed.

Prior to the most recent attack, more than 10,000 residents of Thantlang had already fled their homes as the military indiscriminately shot into houses and set off fires by shelling in September.

In recent weeks, the military began sending fresh reinforcements to launch a major offensive against the resistance groups in the region. The UN human rights office has warned that the deployment of troops and heavy weapons by the military may lead to an imminent attack in these areas.

Myanmar’s military has long been accused of committing atrocities, especially in ethnic regions, by resorting to rape, abductions, arbitrary arrests and killings besides vandalizing places of worship and civilian properties.

More than 23,600 people have been displaced in several townships in Chin state since May while 5,200 people were newly displaced as of Nov. 10 and more than 15,000 have already crossed the border with India, according to UN reports.

Catholic and Baptist churches in Chin state, an impoverished region, were targeted by the military in July and August as soldiers camped in the churches and destroyed church property.

Various denominations have condemned the disrespectful acts of the soldiers, including the consumption of alcohol inside places of worship, and called it a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Nearly 1,300 people have been killed by the junta since it seized power and toppled the elected civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1.


The United States Commission On International Religious Freedom

Public Hearing 

After The Saffron Revolution, Repression, And The U.S. Policy Option  

For Burma”

Statement By Salai Bawi Lian


Chin Human Rights Organization

The Capitol
Washington DC-December 3, 2007 

Thank you. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman and the honorable commission.

A few months ago, the world witnessed how the Burmese military regime, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) ruthlessly persecuted Buddhist monks in the street of Rangoon. The whole world was shocked. 

In fact, the SPDC have been systematically persecuting religious minority groups such as Chin Christians for decades. I am honored to be invited to this important hearing to tell how the military junta in Burma has systematically persecuted Chin Christians who inhabit Burma’s western territory of Chin State or Chinland. 

My name is Salai Bawi Lian from Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO). I am an ethnic Chin from Burma. 

When I and my colleagues founded Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), our intention was to document all incidents of human rights abuses against Chin people without focusing on a single issue. However, as time went on, it was quickly obvious that the issue of religious persecution was a matter of great concern to us. At least one piece of information in the reports that we gathered for our bimonthly newsletter, Rhododendron News, has had to do religious persecution against Chin Christians. The CHRO eventually published a book “Religious Persecution: A Campaign of Ethnocide Against Chin Christian in Burma” in 2005 that can be downloaded from CHRO website at 

When I look back the record of CHRO documentation for the past 12 years, its begin with the news about 5 Chin Christian children lured and forced to become young Buddhist monks and nuns in 1995 and the last information report we received as recently as last month November 2007 that Chin Christian students in one particular town of Chin state are regularly forced to observe Buddhist merit making in the middle of the week that the entire school have to be closed on official school day. Then the entire school has to make up their missing day on Saturday. 

The SPDC and successive Burmese military regime have been systematically persecuting Chin Christians for decades that the SPDC;

  • Prohibit construction of Churches, Destroyed Crosses and Replaced With Pagodas or Statue of Buddhist Monk
  • After 1990s the Chins never get permit to construct Churches
  • Destroyed most Crossed planted in towns and replaced with Buddhist pagodas or Buddhist monk statue
  • The order to destroy cross usually come from the highest military rank in the region
  • The largest Cross remaining, 50 foot tall, in Chin State was destroyed in 2005 with direct order from the highest military commander in Chin State. 

Censor Christian Literature and Publication

  • Since 1962 the Chin Christians never get permission to print the Holy Bible in their own language in Burma
  • In the year 2000 the CHRO received a report that 16,000 Bibles was confiscated by the SPDC in the India-Burma border town of Tamu.
  • The Chins are prohibited to learn their own language in their own homeland.  

Target Clergy 

  • Christian pastors and ministers are highly respected among the Chin people
  • They are highly respected as intermediaries between God and the congregations.
  • The dignitary position of pastors and ministers made jealousy of the military regime that they are the first targets in the regime’s campaign against Chin Christians
  • Rev. Zaangkholet and three of the village elders were brutally killed. Rev. Luai Thang was humiliated and brutally killed. Several other pastors and minister have been humiliated and arrested.  

Restrict on Freedom of Assembly and Worship 

  • All Christians gathering and conference including religious festival require prior authorization by the Military regime.
  • The regime usually impose many restrictions.
  • In some occasion the sermon had to be approved by the authority.  

Discriminate Based on Ethnicity and Religion 

  • Christians with non-Burman ethnic background can not be promoted in high ranking government official.
  • In the Army Chin Christian can not be promoted beyond Major rank unless they converted to Buddhism.
  • There are 3 categories (A, B, and C) designated for those who can not be promoted in the rank. A stands for AIDS symptom, B stands for Hepatitis B and C stands for Christians.  

Selective Forced Labor 

  • Forced labor is a widespread practice in Burma.
  • However, forced labor is specifically directed against Chin Christians in order to coerce them into converting to Buddhism.
  • Those who converts to Buddhism are exempted from forced labor while Christians are forced to work on Sundays.  

State Sponsor Expansion of Buddhism 

  • Since early 1990s the Burmese military regime created Hill Region Buddhist Mission and send many Buddhist monks to Chin state.
  • Chin Christians are forced to contribute labor, money for construction of Buddhist monasteries and Pagodas, and forced to listen the Buddhist monk sermons.
  • Many Chin Christians children have been lured to provide education in a bigger town. However Children are later found to be in Buddhist monasteries with their head shaven to become novice Buddhist monks.  

A People and Culture at Stake 

  • Due to militarization and human rights violations committed by the Burmese military regime against Chin Christians, many can not longer survive.
  • There are 60 thousands Chin refugees living in India.
  • There are between 25 thousands Chin refugees living in Malaysia
  • The Chin people are facing untold poverty and humanitarian crisis  


  • Needed national reconciliation through dialogue
  • Needed to implement Broad Based Constitutional Review Commission proposed by UN Needed to implement Broad Based Poverty Alleviation Commission  

Thank you very much.

Salai Bawi Lian Mang


Chin Human Rights Organization

Human Rights Situation in Chinland



Salai Bawi Lian Mang


Chin Human Rights Organization


Joint Venue Hosted


Lawyers Group of Amnesty International (Hong Kong)


Christian Solidarity Worldwide (Hong Kong)


 November 7, 2005 Hong Kong 

I would like to say thank you to the CWS (Hong Kong) and the Lawyers Group of Amnesty International (Hong Kong) for creating this venue, exclusively for the situation of human rights in Chinland (Chin state and western Burma). I am honored to speak about human rights situation in Chinland to a group of intellectuals, lawyers, the AI (Hong Kong) and CSW (Hong Kong) who have committed in promotion of human rights around the world. 

Thanks to Ms. Chato Olivas Gallo for your nice introduction. My name is Salai Bawi Lian Mang from Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO). The CHRO is an independent non-governmental human rights organization. We aim to protect and promote human rights among the Chin people, and to contribute to the movement for the restoration of democracy and human rights in Burma. Founded in 1995, CHRO has worked to document the human rights situations of the Chin people in Burma’s western region. 

Even though the political and human rights situation in Burma has gained international attention in recent years, the situation of the Chin people remained largely unknown by international community. 

I am regrets to say that human rights conditions among Burma’s ethnic people, including the Chin people continue to remain a matter of grave concern. In fact, human rights conditions of the Chin people have become worse and the number of displaced persons and refugees has increased in recent years. Under the reign of the State Peace and Development Council, the Chin people have continued to experience untold miseries and hardships as a result of the systematic abuse of their fundamental human rights. 

There is a direct link between the growing abuse against the Chin people and the increase in militarization of the Chin areas. In the last fifteen years since the regime took over power, the number of army battalions stationed in Chin State has increased up to 10 times. This increase has been accompanied by the rapid acceleration in the level of human rights abuses across Chin State. The kind of human rights violations suffered by the Chins today are the same as those that have been extensively reported among ethnic Karen, Shan, and Karenni on the eastern border. These violations manifest in the forms of arbitrary arrest and detention, forced labor, torture, rape and extrajudicial executions. Moreover, the overwhelming percentage of Christians among the Chin people has also brought abuses in the form of religious persecution. Today, religious persecution is a matter of primary concern among the Chin people. 

Since 1999, the US State Department has singled out Burma as a country that systematically violates religious freedom. The annual reports have cited a significant amount of cases of religious persecution involving the Chin people. 

 Religious Persecution: 

Religious persecution poses a matter of grave concern among the Chin people. Chin Human Rights Organization, since 1995, has documented a range of human rights abuses by the military regime against the Chin people, including violations of religious freedom. 

In December of 2004, Burma hosted a World Buddhists Summit amidst questions about its worthiness to organize such international meeting given the regime’s abysmal record of treating religious minorities and absolute disregard for fundamental human rights. Around the same time that this meeting took place in Rangoon, Burmese troops from Light Infantry Battalion (304) desecrated a Christian cross in Matupi of southern Chinland. 

On January 3, 2005 a giant Christian cross on top of Mount Boi near Matupi town of Chin State was destroyed by Burmese troops on direct order of Colonel San Aung, one of the highest ranking military commanders in the region. The 50-foot tall concrete cross was erected by local Christians at the cost three and a half million Kyats. After destroying the cross, troops from Light Infantry Battalion (304) hoisted a Burmese flag as a sign of victory against Christianity in Chin State where more than 90 percent of the populations are Christians. There are reports the regime is making plans to construct a Buddhist pagoda on the site. 

Christian religion has deep root in the Chin society. Since the first Chin conversion in the early 20th century following the arrival of American Baptist missionaries to the Chin Hills, Christianity gradually became accepted by a large majority of the Chin populations, who had practiced traditional animism for centuries. After a century since then, Christianity now is second culture for many Chin people. 

Chin people today claim that more than 90 percent of Chins are Christians. Because of the overwhelming importance of Christianity among the Chins, the junta, which strongly identifies itself with Buddhism and has been preoccupied with building national unity has been trying to promote Buddhism over Christianity in Chin State with the belief that once the Chins are converted to Buddhism they can be easily subjugated.

For this reason, the regime has resorted to persecuting the Chins, a drastic action that involves arbitrarily removing Christian crosses erected by churches on hilltops throughout Chin State and openly directing and supporting coerced conversions of Christians into Buddhism. 

Through the Hill Buddhist Mission, a program directly sponsored by the military regime, Buddhist monks have migrated to the Chin State. In every town and major villages in Chin State, the regime has established a Buddhist pagoda and station monks who are closely working with local army battalions. Buddhist pagodas are often built in places where Christian monuments such as crosses have formerly stood, and Christians have been either forced to donate money or forced to build the pagodas. 

The regime is putting close scrutiny on preachers and evangelists, and in many instances has made effort to censor the contents of sermons delivered by Christian pastors and ministers. Citing the risk of security, authorities have either not permitted or arbitrarily set the number of people who could attend religious festivals and conferences. Moreover, the regime has still not permitted the printing and publication of Bibles, forcing Chin Christians to quietly bringing Bibles from abroad. In several instances, army authorities have confiscated Chin-language Bibles imported from India, and burnt or destroyed them. 

Construction of new church buildings is prohibited and Christians must obtain prior authorization for even renovation of church buildings. These are all in stark contrast to the freedoms enjoyed by monks and Buddhists whose activities are openly supported, and encouraged by authorities. Several reports documented by CHRO show that army patrols have deliberately used Church compounds for shelter and camps, and have purposefully disturbed Church services by entering into churches during Sunday worship services. 

The regime has also targeted Christian leaders by falsely implicating and accusing them of supporting anti-government groups, and has jailed and tortured many pastors. In remote villages and other rural areas in Chin State, army units on patrols have frequently mistreated, assaulted and tortured Christian pastors. 

Coerced conversions of Christian families and children have also been reported in several parts of Chin State. Those who convert to Buddhism were exempted from forced labor and given special privileges. Local authorities have frequently recruited Christian children under the pretext of giving them formal education in cities. The last incidents happening in last year, five Christian children, between the ages of 7 and 18 years old from Matupi township of Chin State, who had been placed in monasteries in Rangoon, escaped confinement in Buddhist temples where they have been forced to follow Buddhist teachings. 

Restriction on the use and teaching of Chin language: 

Under the military regime, the teaching of Chin language in school is prohibited. In elementary schools, the permitted level of teaching Chin language is grade 2. Publications of textbooks in Chin are not provided for by the government and Christian churches are forced to bear the burden of supplying these texts. Chin school teachers of all levels of high school in Chin State are instructed to use Burmese as a medium of communication with their students. This measure has greatly diminished the level of understanding by the students in school and has served to downgrade student performance. Since the mid 1990s, the new curriculum is dominated by perspectives of Burmese or Burman culture and history, and students have complained about the lack of substance that reflects ethnic Chin perspectives in the subject. This has also been seen as an open attempt to assimilate the Chin youth into mainstream Burman culture. 

Because of the limited number of government schools available for the Chin populations in Chin State, communities in rural villages have set up private schools to allow the children access to primary education. Unsupported by the government, villages have to seek their own means of running the school by contributing money and resources for the schools. However, since 1998, the regime has banned many self-supported private schools, depriving many children in rural communities of primary education. It should be noted that because these private schools are not under direct control of the government, they were able to offer alternative learning in Chin language. Restriction on the learning of Chin language has already taken its toll on the Chin youth. A high percentage of Chin teenagers are not able to read and write in their own language. This has been exacerbated by the fact that many Chin children look down on their own language and had instead chosen to use Burmese. 

Forced Labor: 

Burma has claimed that it has outlawed the practice of forced labor in 2001. However, independent investigations into this claim have found the pervasiveness and the continued use of forced labor in the Chin State. Local army battalions have routinely exacted forced labor from villagers and rural communities in building roads, army camps, development infrastructures and agricultural projects. In major townships of Chin state such as Hakha, Falam, Matupi and Thantlang, civilians are being routinely forced to work at government tea plantation farms. I am not going in detail about the forced labor situation, instead, I will refer you to the report we made a few months ago.The report titled “THE FORCED LABOR PANDEMIC IN CHINLAND”

 Political Suppression: 

The Chin people are not represented in the central, state and local administration under the military regime. After the regime nullified the results of the 1990 elections, all Chin political parties were declared illegal. These political parties include the Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD), the Mara Peoples Party (MPP) and Zomi National Congress (ZNC) Party. Subsequent crackdowns on political dissidents have forced 3 of the 13 Chin Members of Parliament to flee the country while 2 others were arrested and imprisoned for several years. Since early 1990s, the entire Chin populations have forced to live under virtual curfew. Dozens of civilians accused of supporting, Chin National Front, underground movement were arrested, tortured and imprisoned under the Unlawful Association Act. Civilians charged under this act are routinely tortured in interrogating chambers. According to a former a woman prisoner, she was humiliated, tortured and deprived of food and sleep for one week before she was arbitrarily sentenced to 3 years in prison. 


I would like to highlight the particularly grave situations of Chin refugees. In the year since the military regime took over power in 1988, about 60,000 Chin refugees have fled to India, Bangladesh and Malaysia. At least 50,000 Chin refugees have lived in Mizoram State of northeast India. Neither the Government of India nor the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has recognized them as refugees. As a result Chin refugees have frequently been forced back to Burma. 

The need for protection and humanitarian assistance of Chin refugees in Malaysia is no less important. Over the past few years, more than 12,000 Chin refugees have also sought sanctuary in Malaysia. Like the Chin refugees in India, they are identified as ‘illegal’ and risk frequent arrest and deportation by Malaysian authorities. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has recognized only a very small fraction of Chin refugees. 


The problems faced by Burma’s ethnic groups, including the Chin people are the direct consequence of military rule and its campaign of State organized terrorism directed primarily against the ethnic people who constitute more than 40% of the country’s population. Today, the Chin people and all the ethnic people are fighting for our very survival as a people. Our cultural, ethnic and religious identities are being rapidly eroded, and our very survival as a people is being threatened by the policies of ethnic cleansing relentlessly conducted by the military regime. 

Due to militarization and rampant human rights violations committed by the Burmese military regime, the Chin people have suffer untold misery in their daily lives and the Burmese military regime has created the situation that is impossible for the Chin people to survive in their own land. 

The sufferings of the ethnic nationalities could only be remedied through fundamental change in the political system, a change that would allow the ethnic people equitable representation in the decision-making process of the country. Time is passing and innocent lives are being lost. The international community needs to take effective and urgent actions on Burma before the problems develop into an irreversible stage. 

I hope I have presented a brief overall human rights situation in Chinland, and I think it will be good to open the panel for discussion and questions and answers. I will be happy to answer any question you may have. 

Thank You.
Salai Bawi Lian Mang 

Chin Human Rights Organization 

Hong Kong, November 7, 2005







COLUMBIA, APRIL 15-16, 2005

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude and heartfelt thanks to the conference organizers for inviting me to this important gathering of good Christians here in the city of Columbia. I am particularly appreciative that I have the opportunity to speak about persecuted Chin Christians from Burma, who can not speak for themselves,  who have been suffering so long under the most brutal and ruthless military regime in the world.
I  have come to this conference with the aim of bringing light to the decades-long systematic denial and violation of religious rights of Chin Christians who inhabit Burma’s western territory of Chin State or Chinland by the country’s ruling military junta known as the State Peace and Development Council.

My name is Salai Bawi Lian Mang, from Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO). I am an ethnic Chin from Burma.

The Chin people are one of the major ethnic groups in Burma. A South-East Asian Nation with the population of 54 million, Burma is composed with 8 major ethnic groups; Arakan, Burmese, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon and Shan, and Burmese are majority with about 60% of the country population.

I will briefly talk about overall human rights situation in Burma and then my presentation will focus on persecution of Chin Christians by the ruling Burmese military regime.

At present, Burma is ruled by military junta called State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Since the Burmese military took state power by killing thousands of innocent people in 1988, gross violations of human rights is committed by the military regime including political suppression, arbitrary detention, torture, rape, disappearances, extra-judicial killings, oppression of ethnic and religious minorities, and use of forced labor.

There are more than one thousand political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Noble Peace Price winner.

Burma is the second largest opium producing country in the world and the ruling military regime is directly links with the drug trade as political crisis, civil war and abuse of power is related with notorious drug trade.
In addition to drugs, the spread of HIV/AIDS is of great concern that can affect regional stability in the near future.  Burma after India and Thailand has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in Asia. HIV/AIDS epidemic is mainly caused by drug addiction and lack of knowledge and prevention program in the country.

There is a report made by Shan Women Action Networks that the Burmese military regime is using rape as weapon of wars against ethnic Shan. The report details 173 incidents of rape and other forms of sexual violence, involving 625 girls and women, committed by Burmese soldiers in Shan State, between 1996 and 2001.

The military regime in Burma has violated the right to education by closing universities and colleges in the country for about 9 years within the past 16 years because the military regime views students as a threat to their dictatorial rule as students are the only vocal group that have been standing fearlessly against the military regime.

The use of forced labor is so widespread that the International Labor Organization (ILO) has expelled Burma from the ILO for the regime’s widespread use of forced labor.

Since 1991, the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights have for 14 consecutive years adopted consensus resolutions condemning the Burmese military junta’s systematic violations of human rights.

In 2003, President Bush enacted Burma Freedom and Democracy Act in response to the continued and systematic violations of human rights by the Burmese military junta.

Starting from 1999 the US Department of State, Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor annual report on international religious freedom report has branded Burma as country of particular concern for its widespread practice of religious persecution against minority religion such as Christians. In Burma more than 80% are Buddhist and Christians made only 4% in the country while in Chin state, Christians made about 90% of the population and religious persecution is a major concern in Chin state and among Chin Christians.

The military junta which made its way to power through a bloody coup in 1988 has ruled the country at gunpoint. Preoccupied by the idea of “national unity or unifying the country,” Burma’s military regime has embarked on a policy of creating a single national identity based on the policy of “Amyo, Batha, Thatana” or One race, One Language, One Religion” in other words “to be a Burman is to be a Buddhist” through assimilating all identifiable ethnic minority groups into the mainstream Burman society, a dominant ethnic group with which the regime identifies itself.

Introduction to the Chin People
Chin indigenous people inhabited the land bordering with India from the west, Bangladesh from the South-West, Arakan from the South and Burma from the east. It is estimated that the Chin, in a general sense including outside and inside of Chinland, number as many as two million, with the largest and noticeable number concentrated in the Chin State. The Chins were living as independent nation till the British invaded their land in the late 19th century and annexed all their territory into British Empire in the early 20th century.

After the second World Wars, as Burma’s independence movement grew, the Chin decided to participate with Burmese and other ethnic groups in a constitutional process towards the development of a federal union. Thus, the Chins are co-founder of today Union of Burma by participating in a multi-ethnic conference concluded on February 12, 1947, which led to the creation of an independent federal Union of Burma on January 4, 1948. However, a military coup led by General Ne Win in 1962 effectively ended the Chin’s special political status within the Union of Burma as one of its primary constituent member. Today Chin people in Burma are not represented in any form of political decision-making in the national, state or local administration.

Christianity and Chin People:
In 1899, American Baptist Missionary Rev. Arthur Carson and his wife from American Baptist Mission come to Chinland, present Chin state in Burma, and founded mission station at Haka present capital town of Chin state. Following the arrival of American missionaries, the two Chin couples converted to Christianity in 1904. Over the century almost the whole population in Chin state converted to Christianity and it is estimated that about 90 percent of Chins in Chin state are Christians at present.

In 1953 Baptist Chins organized themselves as Zomi (Chin) Baptist Convention. The majority of Chin Christians are Baptist and there are around 1,000 local small churches in all over Chin state and several associations.

Today, the impact of Christianity was not only confined within the spiritual and cultural contexts of the Chin people, it manifested itself as a uniting force for different Chin communities. With their conversion to Christianity, the Chins embraced one another as members of a community of faith in Christ.  At the same time, there developed a new self-consciousness and political awareness of Chin cultural homogeneity, thus providing a new framework for Chin nationalism.

Since the first Chin conversion to Christianity in the early 1900s following the arrival of American missionaries, Christianity has been deeply entrenched in Chin society and has become part of the Chin cultural identity. Burma’s ruling military regime is systematically persecuting Chin Christians in order to replace Christianity with Buddhism and assimilated them into mainstream Burman culture. Evidence demonstrates that the military regime is using religious persecution as a tool of ethnocide against Chin Christians.

Persecution of Chin Christian:
As Chin State has the largest concentration of Christians in the whole of Burma in terms percentage, it was not only a large number of Burmese soldiers that was brought into by the Burmese regime, in the name of “Hill Regions Buddhist Mission”, the junta brought in an army of Buddhist monks who were then dispatched to various towns and villages across Chin State. Protected by the soldiers, these Buddhist monks have considerable powers over the Chin population. In many cases, local people have pointed out that the monks are military intelligence operatives who are more powerful than local army commanders. The Chin Human Rights Organization reported about the monks stationed around Matupi Township as follow:

The monks who live at Zakam, Rezua, Leisen, Vangvai and Tinsi villages rule the communities. Anyone who doesn’t abide by the monks orders is reported to the SLORC/SPDC army and he/she is punished by the army. The monks give judgment on all cases. For those who become Buddhist, they are free from any persecution such as forced labour, portering, extortion of money, etc. Whenever and wherever a monk visits, he is accompanied by the army and they arrange a porter to carry the monk’s particulars. The villagers were forced to build a Buddhist monastery and temple. But they refused, insisting “we are Christians”. Even though the army threatened action against them, they didn’t build it yet. Now the monks and army are holding a meeting to discuss this. Nobody knows what will happen.

A 40-year-old Chin Christian from Matupi Township recounted how he was converted to Buddhism, recruited and trained to be part of a campaign against Christians; 

“I was invited to attend social welfare training by the [SLORC (now SPDC)] authority from Matupi on 27/2/95. When I arrived at the place, the authority told us that it is to attend Buddhist hill tract missionary training run by a Buddhist monk named U Razinn at Mindat. As we are Christian, we said we didn’t want to go. But the monk persuaded us saying, ‘it is no problem if you are Christian, it is just religious training’. So 5 other persons and I took part in the 10 day training. In the training, we were taught the 17 facts of how to attack and disfigure Christians.”
The 17 points to attack Christians by the regime is as follows:
1.  To attack Christian families and the progress of Christians.
2.  To criticize against the sermons which are broadcast from Manila, Philippines.
3.  To criticize God as narrow-minded and egotistical who himself claimed that “There is no god except eternal God”.
4. To criticize Christian ways of life as corrupted and inappropriate culture in Burma.
5. To criticize the preaching of Christians wherever it has penetrated.
6. To criticize Christianity by means of pointing out its delicacy and weakness.
7. To stop the spread of the Christian movement in rural areas.
8. To criticize by means of pointing out “there is no salvation without purchased by the blood of Christ”.
9.  To counterattack by means of pointing out Christianity’s weakness and overcome this with Buddhism.
10. To counter the Bible after thorough study.
11. To criticize that “God loves only Israel but not all the races”.
12.  To point out ambiguity between the two testaments.
13. To criticize on the point that Christianity is partisan religion.
14.  To criticize Christianity’s concept of the Creator and compare it with the scientific concept.
15. To study and access the amount given in offerings.
16.  To criticize the Holy Bible after thorough study.
17.  To attack Christians by means of both non-violence and violence.

Targeting Clergy:
Christian pastors and ministers secure high reverence and respect among the Chin people. They are highly respected as intermediaries between God and the congregations. Even outside of the Church, they play significant leadership role on occasions such as death, birth or marriage in the community. Also, because there are no Chin people represented in the local or state administration under the Burmese military regime, even in a secular setting, they receive high degrees of respect as leaders of the community. Today, their dignitary position has attracted the attention and jealousy of the ruling military regime, making them the first targets in the regime’s campaign against Christianity and Chin people.

During the past decade, according to Chin Human Rights Organization reports, the Burmese military regime, detained at length, killed or physically abused many Chin Christians.

The following incidents is one grave example how they treated pastors;
In August 1993, the Burmese troop arrested and they (the Burmese Army) interrogated Pastor Zang Kho Let. When the Pastor’s answers did not pleased the interrogators, the army personnel beat him with rifle butts or sticks that eventually broke almost all of his bones after two days of interrogation. They cut open his mouth to the neck and told him “We cut open your mouth so that you will no longer preach”. In the two days that they tortured him, Pastor Zang Kho Let never admitted to using the church fund to help the resistance movement or that he was involved in helping the armed resistance. The soldiers, Non Commissioner Officer NCO’s, and officers tortured the pastor with the intent to kill but he was still alive after two days of their inhuman brutality. When the torturers reported to their Commanding officer, Colonel Thura Sein Win, on the condition of the pastor, the colonel ordered them to tighten a plastic bag over his head. (Thura is an award given for bravery, like the torture of the preacher.)

After Pastor Zang Kho Let died, they dragged his lifeless body out of the school building and shot him. With a bullet wound in his body, the Burmese army unit claimed that they shot the pastor because he was trying to escape. The soldiers brought the dead body of Pastor Zang Kho Let back in the school building and placed together with the leaders of the village community, who were arrested to witness the gruesome state of the body. They were told to feel the bones, which were all broken. They were told, “If you do not tell us the truth and if you do not admit that you helped the rebel, you will face the same fate.”

The headman of the village, Zang Kho Ngam, farmers Ngam Khai, and Thawng Kho Lun admitted to helping the resistance movement in order to escape torture and death. Nonetheless, they were tortured. It took seven days for the three of them to die; they died a slow death. The soldiers cut and burned their skin. They poured salt directly into their open sores. The soldiers zealously repeated the torture that they had just meted out to Pastor Zang Kho Let. When the two farmers died, the soldiers again dragged the bodies outside of the school building and shot. The Burmese Army buried the headman Zang Kho Ngam alive.

Prohibition of Construction of Churches and Desecration of Crosses:

Several Chin Christian churches and infrastructure under construction in the 1990s were forced to stop by the military authority. Those who persisted in constructing their church building had been threatened or punished by the army. CHRO reports that; when the Burmese army ordered to stop construction of Salvation Army Church in Khampat, the pastor of the church ignored the order by resuming construction of the church. He was humiliated and badly beaten up by the army that he was hospitalized for several days. 

The military regime reportedly ordered to stop construction of the following churches and Christian infrastructure; Chin Christian centenary building in Hakha – the capital of Chin State; United Pentecostal Church in Hakha; Zomi Theological dining hall in Falam; Church of Jesus Christ in Falam; hostels (both men and women) for Chin Christian College in Haka, Baptist Church in Farhual, Salvation Army church in Khampat, and the Assembly of God’s Church in Kalaymyo, Evangelical Baptist Church in Myoma Quarter, Faith Bible Theological Seminary in Lawibual Quarter, Sakollam Baptist Church, and Lawibual Baptist Church, Lai Baptist Church in Rangoon were prohibited by the authority.

Evidence shows that the Burmese military regime has actively targeted Christian symbols in its campaign of Burmanization and ethnocide against various ethnic groups in the country.  Christian crosses erected on the tops of hills throughout Chin State have been destroyed. Many of them replaced with Buddhist pagodas and statue of Buddhist monks. Since the early 1980s, Chin communities in various villages and towns have erected wooden crosses on mounts and hill tops beside their villages and towns to symbolize their faith in Christianity, and to remind themselves of the fact that Christianity has played an important role in shaping their modern society and culture. In some cases, however, the erection of these crosses were in response to what the Chin regarded was the State-sponsored importation of Buddhism into Chin State with the construction of pagodas and temples in certain urban centers which began in the 1970s.

Destruction of crosses started around the early 1990s with the rapid increase in army battalions established across Chin State. Since then, almost every cross in all the nine townships in Chin State had been destroyed by the regime. Destruction of crosses is usually ordered by the township authorities or by army battalion commanders. After an order is issued, the church or community responsible for erecting the cross is given a timeframe during which they must dismantle the cross. Failure to do so within the given period often means that the cross is destroyed by the authorities and that Church leaders are arrested for defiance of orders.
As recently as January 3, 2005 a giant Christian cross on top of Mount Boi near Matupi town of Chin State was destroyed by Burmese troops on direct order of Colonel San Aung, one of the highest ranking military commanders in the region. The 50-foot tall concrete cross was erected by local Christians at the cost three and a half million Kyats. After destroying the cross, troops from Light Infantry Battalion (304) hoisted a Burmese flag as a sign of victory against Christianity in Chin State where more than 90 percent of the populations are Christians. There are reports the regime is making plans to construct a Buddhist pagoda on the site.

Since Chin Christians from inside Burma can not do anything in response to this barbaric act, exiled Chin Christians in Malaysia, India, Canada and the US has responded with protest in front of the Burmese embassies.

I would like to share you what was happening in my home town of Thantlang.
The year 1999 marked one hundredth year of the arrival of Christian gospel among the Chins. The centennial celebration was originally planned for March 15 in Haka, the Capital of Chin state where the first Ameriacan missionaries established their first mission center in 1899. Before the official celebration in Haka, advance celebrations were held locally in various townships under the leadership of local churches. In Thantlang town, the celebration was organized jointly by all denominations in the town from January 1-3 1999.

On January 5, when the celebration was over, the organizers erected a Centenneial Memorial Cross on a hilltop on Vuichip ridge, located west of the town. Though primarily in remembrance of the early American missionaries, selection of the location for the cross had other significance. In addition to its good view from town, the spot has spiritual and religious dimension to it. Before the advent of Christianity, Thantlang residents had traditionally believed that Vuichip ridge was the dwelling place of evil spirits and there had been legends surrounding the spirits roaming the ridge. The erection of the cross on that particular location was to signify that evil spirits have been defeated by the crucifixion Jesus Christ on the cross.

The cross was decorated with looking glasses so that it would be more recognizable when it glows with the reflection from the sun.

On the very night of the cross was erected, the township peace and development council ordered the destruction of the cross, compelling the very people who had erected the cross to destroy it. When the people refused, a section of local police were sent to destroy the cross. Six Christian pastors responsible for organizing the Centennial Celebration and the erection of the Memorial cross were arrested and interrogated by the authority.

In response on January 6, the whole town stage a silent protest by closing down their businesses and refusing to go to work, and by observing 24 hour fast and prayer vigil in their local churches and homes. Fearing the news of protest might spread to other towns; the authorities shutdown telephone connection of the town and arrested 20 more Church leaders. Nevertheless, on January 9, Churches in the Chin state capital, Haka joined the protest, prompting Chairman of the Chin State Peace and Development Council to go to Thantlang to end the strike by threatening and intimidating them.

Restriction on Freedom of Assembly and Worship:

Like all other freedoms, freedom of assembly is subject to severe restriction in Burma. This restriction does not exempt freedom of assembly in religious contexts. 

All gatherings and conferences, including celebrations of religious festivals, require prior authorization by the military regime. However, it is usually extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain such authorization for occasions with potentially large turnout. Citing the risk of security associated with such events, the regime arbitrarily limits the number of people who can attend an event. Moreover, organizations must apply directly to the Ministry of Home and Religious Affairs in Rangoon for permission, a process which involves a long waiting period. This time-consuming bureaucratic procedure creates uncertainties, and it often results in the event having to be cancelled or postponed. People suspect such kind of procedure is deliberately used to prevent Christians from conducting their religious affairs.

In rural areas, local army commanders often issue direct orders forbidding worship services, as well as Christmas and New Year celebrations. The following is transcript of radio broadcast by the Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma on December 23, 2002.

“The SPDC frontline troops summoned people from Haka and Thangtlang Townships in Chin State and told them they were not allowed to hold any Christmas ceremonies and prayer meetings. They went from village to village and told them if they wanted to hold any ceremony they were to hold it in a simple and discrete manner at their homes. Although the chairmen of the village Peace and Development Councils and pastors argued that Christmas is a very auspicious feast for Christians and requested them to allow Christmas celebrations, the column commander of the SPDC forces refused. He also said that if the chairmen and pastors deliberately held any such Christmas feast in defiance of the order, the village chairmen and pastors would all be arrested and recruited as porters. They also threatened to dislocate people.”  

Censorship on Christian Literature and Publication:

Since the military government came to power in 1962, the Christians in Burma, especially non-Burman nationalities have mostly been unable to print the Holy Bible in their own language inside Burma. Chin Christians, for instance, printed the Bile in the Chin language in India, and smuggled it into Burma in the 1970s and 1980s. Even the Holy Bible in Burmese, which was translated by Rev. Judson in the 1820s, never received permission to be reprinted from the Censor Board of the Burmese government, or at least the Old Testament never did. Only the New Testament, together with Psalms and Proverbs, once received permission to be printed during the entire period of the Burmese military regime, that is, from 1962 to present.
The CHRO received a report in the year 2000 that, in the month of June 2000, the SPDC officials in Tamu ordered 16,000 copies of the Bible to be burned in Tamu, Sagaing Division that borders India. These Bibles, which were seized in 1999 by the Burmese Army, are in Chin, Karen and other ethnic languages.

Discrimination Based on Ethnicity and Religion:

Under successive Burmese governments, people of non-Burman ethnic and non-Buddhist background find themselves discriminated against their Burman Buddhist counterparts in education, employment and various levels of civil service. Even those in the army and police serving successive governments were systematically denied promotions in rank on the sole basis of their ethnicity and religion.

Since the 1980s, the new Burmese citizenship law required that every citizen of Union of Burma register for a national identity card on which all particulars including the bearer’s ethnic and religious backgrounds should be provided. Although the initial intention was to exclude “foreigners” such as Indian and Chinese immigrants from citizenship, the introduction of the identity card has had a far-reaching impact on ethnic and religious minority groups. Because the card is essential for travel, employment, health care and higher education, people of non-Burman and non-Buddhist background could be easily denied for employment as well as promotion in civil service on the basis of the particulars provided on the national identity card. In many instances, for Christians and other religious minorities, promotion in civil service is conditioned by their conversion into Buddhism. Many Christian civil servants with outstanding service records have been blatantly denied promotion while their Buddhist peers with less qualification and less seniority quickly rose to high ranking positions. Even a few exceptional non-Buddhist individuals securing high ranking positions were sacked or forced to retire from their positions.

Biak To, a Chin Christian who had served in the Burmese army from 1973 to 1990 as a Captain and later became a Lieutenant Colonel in the police explains how he was sacked for no apparent reasons in 2000:

“At the time of my dismissal, I was the only person holding a B.A degree among officers of my rank in the entire nine Police Regiments in Burma. In fact, I should have been the first one to be considered for promotions. Obviously, the authorities did not want to see a Chin Christian holding high position that they made a pre-emptive move to dismiss me without any apparent charges.”

Major Thawng Za Lian, who has an excellent record in his military service in the Burmese army until leaving the service in 1997, recounts his experience during his career as an officer with a background of minority religious and ethnic identity in Burma that;
“In the army, A, B and C are categories designated for those who can not be promoted in rank. A stands for AIDS symptom, B stands for Hepatitis B and C stands for Christians. Under these categories, those who are carrying AIDS disease are discharged from the military and those who have Hepatitis B are transferred to civil service. And all those belonging to category C (Christians) are not given promotion.”

Major Lian eventually left the army when he was asked to abandon his Christian faith and converted to Buddhism by his superior in order to be promoted.

Selective Forced Labor:

Although most Chin families have been equally affected by the army’s use of forced labor, in many cases, forced labor is specifically directed against Christians in order to coerce them into converting to Buddhism. There are ample evidences that the Burmese military regime is using forced labor as part of its Burmanization program. The apparent theory is that by converting Chin Christians to Buddhism, an important Chin identity will be stripped away, thereby eventually assimilating them into Burman identity. Forced labor has also been used to discourage people from going to church by compelling them to work on Sundays and other Christian religious holidays.

State Sponsored  Expansion Of Buddhism In Chin State:
Since 1990 the military government authorities and security forces have promoted Buddhism over Christianity among the Chin. Until 1990 the Chin generally practiced either Christianity or traditional indigenous religions. The Chins were the only major ethnic minority in the country that did not largely support any significant armed organization in active rebellion against the Government or in an armed cease-fire with the Government. Since 1990 government authorities and security forces, with assistance from monks of the Hill Regions Buddhist Missions, coercively have sought to induce Chins to convert to Theravada Buddhism and to prevent Christian Chins from proselytizing Chins who practice traditional indigenous religions. This campaign, reportedly accompanied by other efforts to “Burmanize” the Chin, has involved a large increase in military units stationed in Chin State and other predominately Chin areas, state-sponsored immigration of Buddhist Burman monks from other regions, and construction of Buddhist monasteries and shrines in Chin communities with few or no Buddhists, often by means of forced “donations” of money or labor.

Along with other methods  to Burmanize the Chin, the Burmese military government has vonverted many Chin Christian families through coercion. The government rewards people who convert to Buddhism by exempting them from forced labor, fiving them ration and monthly allowance. The government also entice Chin Christian children by offering them government scholarship as part of the border area development program. Parents often entrust their children and enrolled them in the program. However, chindlren are later found to be in Buddhist monasteries with their head shaven to become vonice Buddhist monks.

A People and Culture at Stake:
The SPDC’s campaign of ethnocide against Chin people has had serious effect on the lives of the people of Chin State. The physiological dimension is rather profound. Many Chin Christians are convinced that their religious faith is making them targets for abuse, and conversion to Buddhism not only provides them a sense of security but also eases their economic hardships. Yet, there are also people who think that persecution because of their faiths makes their spiritual commitments even stronger.

However, it is already apparent that the ethnocide campaign is taking a toll on the Chin society. Families are increasingly separated and more people are feeling the Chinland to seek safety elsewhere. About 60,000 Chin refugees have fled to India about 12 thousands more are now taking refuge in Malaysia since the 1990s when the military junta began sending thousands of troops to Chinland. Thousands of Chin families have made their way to Rangoon and elsewhere to escape conditions at home, becoming internally displaced persons or IDPs. However, life is no better for those fleeing the country or those trying to find security elsewhere inside Burma. Most of the refugees living in India and Malaysia are not recognized as refugees by the host governments and are considered ‘illegal immigrants.’

There is increasing concern among Chin Christians about the uncertainties of the future. While the regime’s campaign of ethnocide is starting to take a toll on the Chin society, it seems likely that more Chin people will flee their homeland to escape human rights abuses there, increasing a threat of their religion and culture being eroded at an even fast rate. As one Chin pastor puts it “Chinland has become uninhabitable”.

In 1899, American missionary come to Chinland. They brought the gospel and Christianity to the Chin people. As we, the Chins had our own cultural heritage and religion, our fore-fathers did not accept Christianity easily when the American Baptist missionary come to our land. Only after 5 years of the arrival of the American missionaries that the first two Chin couples converted to Christianity in 1904. And following over a century, about 90% of Chins in Chin state have converted to Christianity and Christianity become part of Chin identity and culture. The Chins are now persecuted for their belief in Christianity and democracy by the most brutal and ruthless military junta in the world at present.

As a Chin Christian and human rights activists, I would like to request your prayer, supports and solidarity for my people Chin Christians in Burma.
Thank you.
Salai Bawi Lian Mang
April 16, 2005
[Salai Bawi Lian Mang is founder of Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO). He is editor of Rhododendron News, a bi-monthly human rights news publish by CHRO and co-author of “Religious Persecution: A Campaign of Ethnocide Against Chin Christians in Burma”. He has participated in the UN Human Rights Commission, lobbied the UN General Assembly at the third committee, contributed about “The Chin Indigenous People” at Indigenous Year Book 1999 published by IWGIA, Copenhagen. He studied Political Science at Carleton University. He was an International Visiting Scholar at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley in the year 2003-2004.Salai Bawi Lian Mang can be reached at [email protected] ]


Religious persecution is a problem of major concern in Chinland. Almost 100% of Chins are Christians. Over the past few years, The Burmese military has been forcing Chin Christian villagers to build Buddhist pagodas in their own villages. The Burmese soldiers have been descrating churches and graveyards by turning them into army camps, disturbing religious services and preventing evangelists from preaching.

The following information is provided by Rev-( Name omitted). The incident occured while he was serving in Zomi ( Chin ) Baptist Convention.

In August 1993, there come a telegram to the office of Zomi (Chin) Baptist convention, sent from Kuki Chin Baptist Association office, situated in Homalin, Sagaing Division. This telegram said : Rev Zang Kho Let and 3 other evangelists of the area died. Letter follows. When the follow-up letter arrived the office of Zomi (Chin) Baptist Convention, it said that the victims were brutally tortured and shot to death by the Burman army.

It was a great loss to Zomi ( Chin ) Baptist Convention. The letter explained how they were brutally tortured and killed. I brought the case to the Executive Committee meeting of our Convention. When I read the telegram and the letter before 54 decision making persons, I was trembling. All the members shed tears and cried for help and blessing from God. We selected words carefully to make a report to our Central Baptist office. We stood up and had 4 minutes silence in due respect of the dead evangelists, one minute each for the four. The most senior minister among us said a prayer for the dead.

The Central Baptist Office of Burma wrote a report to the Ministry of Religion. The action taken was transferring that army group. Aside from that there was nothing else we could do. All we did with the government was noted and recorded by local State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) office in Hakha, the capital city of Chin State.


Religious persecutions is a problem of major concern in Chin State. Almost 100% of Chins are Christians. Over the past few years, the Burmese military has been forcing Chin Christians villagers to build Buddhist pagodas in their own villages. The Burmese soldiers have been descrating churches and graveyards by turning them into army camps, disturbing religious services and preventing evangelists from preaching.

The Burman regime practiced their egregious policy of Burmanization and Buddhitization among the minority racial groups. The Chins live on mountains. There are certain mountains where the Chins Christians erected wooden crosses to show that the devil have been defeated by the dead and resurrection of Christ. The erections of crosses in Chinland began since ending part of 1980s. There have been crosses around towns and villages.

The military regime began to destroy those crosses in 1995. For example, the crosses erected on Rung mountain by Baptist Christians in Hakha town, capital town of Chin State, was destroyed by unknown persons. It was not burned by fire. It was systematically torn down. The believers tried to re-erect the cross on the same place. The ruler did not allow them on the ground that the Christian cross should only be erected in the compound of their churches. Likewise, there are many crosses destroy by the unknown persons for the unknown reason in many villages and towns.

On the contrary, the military regime, through the Buddhist societies, constructed many pagodas on top of village and towns in Chin State. This is interpreted as the invasion of Buddhist among The Chin Christians who do not hold political power. The Chin Christians are forced to construct the pagodas. Moreover, they are forced to donate money for the constructions.

Many pastors, evangelists, and young volunteer missionaries have been arrested while they actively worked. In May 1993, 30 young volunteer evangelists, sent by Zomi (Chin) Baptist Convention, were arrested in the town of Paletwa, Southern Chin State. The Chairman of Paletwa Township SLORC was so brutal to the young people. He didn’t give them food. They were starved for five days. After that he released them on bond that they should not preach in the township. The young evangelist left the town.


The Lautu Baptist Churches Conference [under the Zomi(Chin) Baptist Convention] was scheduled to be held on 22.2.1998 in Thantlang township. The church leaders went to Hakha to get permission from SPDC office. They got no reply. Shortly after, Burmese Army troops from IB 266 and IB 50 came with 100 soldiers to Lautu Village Tract. In every village of Lautu tract, they arrested all the Church leaders. The soldiers accused Churches leaders of supporting CNF insurgents. Church leaders were forced to lie down under the sun at noon and ordered to look at the sun by the soldiers. Those who closed their eyes were beaten. The army ordered them not to hold that conference. All the villagers felt so upset because the Army had prevented them from holding the Church Conference.


The following pamphlet has been widely distributed in Burma, and the copies have been obtained in Rangoon, Mandalay, and various eastern border areas. Missionaries, honourable Monks,Cleansing Organisations The facts to attack Christians:

1. To attack Christian families and the progress of Christians

2. To criticise the sermons broadcast from Manila the Philippines3. To criticise God as narrow-minded and egotistical, who himself claimed that “There is no god but eternal God”.

4. To counter corrupt youth and inappropriate fashion

5. To criticise the preaching of Christians wherever it has penetrated

6. To criticise Christianity by means of pointing out its delicacy and weakness

7. To stop the spread of the Christian movement in rural areas

8. To criticise by means of pointing out “It is not salvation but purchased by blood”

9. To counterattack by means of pointing out Christianity’s weakness and to overcome this with Buddhism

10. To counter the Bible after thorough study

11. To criticise that “God loves only Israel but not all races”

12. To point out the ambiguity between the two testaments

13. To criticise the point that Christianity is partisan

14. To criticise Christianity’s concept of the Creator and compare it with the scientific concepts

15. To study and access the amount given in offerings

16. To criticise the Holy Sprit after thorough study

17. To attack Christian by means of both non-violence and violence

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To protect and promote human rights and democratic principles