By Michelle Vu
Christian Post Reporter
Mon, Feb. 12 2007 04:18 PM ET http://www.christianpost.com/article/20061104/25778.htm
WASHINGTON – A delegation of Chin and Kachin activists from Burma was the first of its kind to meet with top U.S. officials to testify against “gross” human rights violations by Burma’s military regime against the country’s Christian minority, indicated a report.
“This has been the first time the Chin and Kachin people have been able to raise a voice at very high levels politically in the United States and the European Union,” reflected Salai Bawi Lian Mang, director of the Chin Human Rights Organization, in a statement.
“We believe our cry has been heard and now the world must act.”
Members of the delegation, organized by U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide, finished a week-long visit to Washington, D.C. on Monday.
The delegation met with John Hanford, ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom; senior policy advisors to the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; representatives of the National Security Council at the White House; and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The activists also met with Congressional and Senate members and staffs, including Congressman Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) and the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Burma is designated as a “Country of Particular Concern,” by the U.S. State Department for its severe religious freedom violations.
Washington was the delegation’s last stop on a tour to brief world leaders on the discrimination and persecution of the military’s regime against Christians in Burma. Other stops on the tour included London, Brussels and Berlin.
“This has been a truly historic opportunity to raise international awareness about the plight of the Chin and Kachin peoples in Burma, and to urge the international community to take action to bring an end to the suffering of all the people of Burma,” said CSW’s advocacy officer for South Asia, Benedict Rogers, who traveled with the delegation, in a statement.
The Chin and Kachin ethnic groups, in which 90 percent of the population is Christian, are severely persecuted by Burma’s pro-Buddhist military regime.
Reports have exposed that Christians are forced by the regime to tear down crosses and churches and replace them with Buddhist pagodas and statues. Christian Chin and Kachin women are raped, and children from Christian families are taken from their parents and placed into monasteries to become novice monks under the false pretense of sending the children to receive a good education. The parents are not told that their children are being sent to a monastery and in some cases the parents never see their child again.
Christians are also forced to contribute financially to Buddhist projects.
Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, recalls in a recent column that “for many years, crosses dotted the mountaintops and villages of the Chin’s homeland.” However, now there are no crosses left on the mountaintops. Instead, the Chin and other Burmese Christian have become the “preferred targets of one of the world’s most brutal regimes.”
Last month, a British newspaper reported on a secret document authored by the Burmese military regime ordering a wipeout of Christians in the country. The document, which the regime denies responsibility, gave step-by-step instructions on how to eliminate Christians, capitalizing on the fact that “the Christian religion is very gentle,” claims the Telegragh.
In addition to religious freedom, Chin and Kachin activists informed government officials about Burma’s problems with human trafficking, sexual violence and forced labor.
“We will continue to do all we can to highlight the gross violations of human rights perpetrated by Burma’s brutal military regime, including the violations of religious freedom, the use of rape as a weapon of war and other crimes against humanity,” concluded Rogers.
Delegation members included representatives of the Chin Human Rights Organization, the Women’s League of Chinland and the Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand.