Rhododendron publication – VOL.II No.VI JUNE 1999


Christian persecution is on the rise in Burma .The Military authorities have pulled down a cross put up to commemorate 100 years of Christianity among the Chin people.

They also arrested and interogated 26 pastors ( and Church elders ). The gospel was brought to the area in 1899 by American Baptist missionaries.Since then, almost the entire Chin population have become believers.

To commemorate the centenary of Christianity in their homeland the people of Thantlang put up a cross on their hill. The Burmese Army ordered them to pull it down. When they refused, soldiers arrested six pastors and destroyed the cross.

The people then stage a 24hr-prayer vigil effectively a general strike in their homes. The army promptly cut the phone lines and arrested 20 more pastors ( Church Elders ) for interrogation.

Chin believers in America have stage protest outside the Myanmar Embassy in Washington. They called on the military regime to stop intimidating and arresting Christians and to replant the crosses they have pulled down.

It’s the latest in along line of acts a gainst the Chin people by the Buddhist military authorities. Churches have been turned into army camps, pastors have been beaten, and Christians have been forced to register as Buddhist in a census.

A police directive in 1992 demanded that the authorities oppose the spread of the Christian religion in every family, fight and oppose the preaching of Christian in every place, and “fight”the Christian religion by both soft and cruel methods. They have even taken Christian children and initiated them as Buddhist novices in a monastery. In some places the persecution and intimidation has been so intense that entire villages have fled to India to seek sanctuary.

Almost 90 percent of the Burmese people are Buddhist. Christians from the largest religious minority with 6.5 percent are professing faith in Jesus. Yet among the chin, 90 percent are Christians. Neither Buddhism nor Christianity is the natural religion of Burma. The success of the Christian faith among the Chin is due in part to the native religious belief in one God who is the guardian of the universe and an afterlife.

What is happening to the chin is an extension of the forced Burmanisation and ethnic cleansing taking place in the country. The Christian Karen and Karenni have also been targeted for persecution. Yet according to the Burmese constitution ”the State shall not make any discrimination on the ground of religious faith or belief'”. The Universal declaration of Human Rights guaranteeing freedom of religion is a significantinternational standard that one would hope all countries would aspire to. ChinChristian leaders in exile in America say junta is deliberately trying to provoke trouble to justify their military presence in Chin territory.They believe the army is trying to stoke up an insurgency to provide the excuse to hold on to power indefinitely.

Chin leaders say the way to combat oppressionis with tolerance and forgiveness. They are calling on the junta to withdraw their arm forces from the Chin State and stop murder, rape, and robbery of civilians, along with the practice of forced labor, which is a form of modern day slavery.

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