COUNTRY PROFILE

BURMA (MYANMAR)

“An invisible war” – this is how San Htoi of Kachin Women’s Association (Thailand) described the targeting of Christians in Burma (Myanmar).(1) Despite a genocidal campaign(2) being waged by the Burmese army against Kachin State’s 1.6 million inhabitants – of whom 90-95 percent are Christian (Roman Catholic or Baptist) – international reports have been slow to acknowledge the Kachin people’s predominantly Christian identity.(3) Kachin Christians have been killed, raped, tortured and used to “clear” landmine-peppered areas.(4) Women and girls have been trafficked as brides to China.(5) 3,000 villages have been burnt to the ground in the past decade6 and over 200 churches destroyed since 2011.(7) The 2017 US Department of State religious freedom report called the plight of the 100,000 displaced Christians living in camps and thousands stranded in jungle terrain, “desperate and unsustainable”,(8) while the UN branded the violence “crimes against humanity”.(9) According to the US Department of State, minority religions in the country, including Christians, saw religious property and texts destroyed. They were also denied permits for religious buildings and renovations. Chin State “blocked Christian groups and churches from buying land in the name of their religious organisations for the purpose of worship”. Christians also experienced discrimination in employment. In Karen State, Christians were issued with identification cards from central government stating they were Buddhist despite specifying that they were “Christians” on their applications. Officials refused to amend the cards.(10)

1. Libby Hogan, “‘Slow genocide’: Myanmar’s invisible war on the Kachin Christian minority”, The Guardian, 14th May 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/14/slow-genocidemyanmars-invisible-war-on-the-kachin-christian-minority (accessed June 20th 2019).
2. Alex Crawford, “Uncovered: Worrying evidence of new genocidal campaign on Kachin Christian minority in Myanmar”, Sky News, 5th June 2018 https://news.sky.com/story/uncovered-worryingevidence-of-new-genocidal-campaign-in-myanmar-11395173 (accessed June 20th 2019).
3. “‘Untold Miseries’ Wartime Abuses and Forced Displacement in Burma’s Kachin State”, Human Rights Watch 2012 report, https://www.hrw.org/report/2012/03/20/untold-miseries/wartime-abusesand-forced-displacement-burmas-kachin-state (accessed June 17th 2019).
4. Holly MacKay, “With world’s attention on Rohingyha Muslims, Christians in Burma also face brutal persecution”, Fox News, 17th August 2018 https://www.foxnews.com/world/with-worlds-attentionon-rohingya-muslims-christians-in-burma-also-face-brutal-persecution (accessed 20th June 2019).
5. “‘Give us a baby and we”ll let you go’: Trafficking of Kachin’s ‘Brides’ from Myanmar to China”, Human Rights Watch, 21st March 2019, https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/03/21/give-us-baby-and-welllet-you-go/trafficking-kachin-brides-myanmar-china (accessed 21st June 2019) .
6. “Planting churches and developing communities in Myanmar, where Christians face adversity, persecution and isolation”, World Share, November 2017, https://worldshare.org.uk/who-we-help/who-we-help/src/ministry/21/title/myanmar (accessed 17th June 2019).
7. US Department of State, “Burma”, International Religious Freedom Report 2018, https://www.state.gov/reports/2018-report-on-international-religious-freedom/burma/ (accessed 22nd June 2019).
8. Ibid.
9. “Myanmar: UN Fact-Finding Mission releases its full account of massive violations by military in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States”, OHCHR, 18th September 2018, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=23575&LangID=E (accessed 17th June 2019).
10. “Burma”, International Religious Freedom Report 2017, op. cit; US Department of State, “Burma”, International Religious Freedom Report 2018, https://www.state.gov/reports/2018-report-oninternational-religious-freedom/burma/ (accessed 1st July 2019).
11. “Buddhist mob in Myanmar attacked Christians celebrating Christmas”, Burma Human Rights Network, 4th January 2019 http://www.bhrn.org.uk/en/press-release/1071-buddhist-mob-in-rakhinestate-attacked-christians-celebrating-christmas.html (accessed 16th July 2019).
12. UN Human Rights Council, Report of the detailed findings of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, September 2018, pp. 46 ff, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/MyanmarFFM/Pages/Index.aspx (accessed 14th June 2019).
13. “Burma”, International Religious Freedom Report 2018, op. cit.
14. “Buddhist Mob in Rakhine State attacked Christians celebrating Christmas”, Progressive Voice Myanmar, 4th January 2019, https://progressivevoicemyanmar.org/2019/01/04/buddhist-mob-inrakhine-state-attacked-christians-celebrating-christmas/ (accessed 1st July 2019).

June 2018
Two nuns were attacked by locals in Pataekyaw Village, Ann Township. Later, a priest who reported the incident was beaten by a Buddhist mob.(11)

September 2018
A UN report noted the torture and ill-treatment of Kachin Christians by soldiers. “[O]ne Christian victim was made to imitate Jesus on a cross like the crucifixion” by military intelligence agents.(12)

September 2018
200 Christian leaders were detained, churches were destroyed and severe limits were imposed on worship, teaching, and evangelisation by United Wa State Army (UWSA) authorities, which control the Wa Self-Administered Division in Shan State. A UWSA spokesman subsequently confirmed the reports. Most of the detained Christian leaders were later released.(13)

December 2018
On Christmas Eve, a mob of 50 people, including three monks in Setsi Village, Rakhine State, attacked a group of Christians during a Christmas service in a temporary shelter. One pastor was admitted to hospital with injuries sustained during the attack.(14)

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