YANGON – Life goes on as normal for Christians and Muslims in Myanmar, just as life goes on as normal for Christians and Muslims in America. Normal is the operative word because what is normal for them is at the extreme opposite of what normal is for us.
We often refer to normal as “the daily grind” – our routine list of to-dos. For many in Myanmar normal is avoiding persecution. For us, normal is “being alive.” For them, it is “staying alive.”
The global media has covered the Rohingya refugee crisis for those who take the time to read about it. The Rohingya are a group of Muslim residents of Myanmar who, because of intense persecution and the constant threat of death, have been leaving the country in droves. Most of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have sought safety in neighboring Bangladesh since Burmese military forces “attacked and destroyed their jungle villages, killed thousands of men and babies and systematically gang-raped the women.” Some close observers have estimated that the death toll among Rohingyas alone would have exceeded a million had Bangladesh not allowed the refugees into their country. The measure of extreme brutality is more brutal than we wish to report on this news site.
Only recently has the world outside of Myanmar begun to realize that Christians, too, have become a target of the Burmese military. When the extreme persecution began against the Rohingya, a Muslim imam in Bangladesh warned that the Myanmar government has plans to eradicate other minorities, such as Baptists and other Christians. “This is, culturally, like you see in many brutal dictatorships. They have painted the Rohingya or anyone who is an ethnic minority, whether it is a Rohingya, Christian, a Hindu.”
What he foresaw is now happening.
According to Open Doors, Buddhist leaders instigate Christian persecution in the predominantly Buddhist country.
“In predominantly Christian states like Kachin State, Karen State, and Northern Shan, even well-established historical churches experience attacks. More than 100,000 Christians live in IDP (internally displaced) camps, deprived of access to food and healthcare. In some instances, Buddhist monks have invaded church properties and built Buddhist shrines on church premises. The Buddhist, Muslim or tribal families of converts persecute believers, often ostracized from society. Communities who aim to stay “Buddhist only” make life for Christian families impossible by not allowing them to use community water resources. Evangelical church groups experience opposition as well, especially those in rural areas of Myanmar.”
Exacerbating the intensification of “violent pacification” is the fact that the military has blocked aid agencies from providing food and supplies to displaced Kachin Christians who have sought refuge in the jungles and forests. In addition, authorities in Myanmar have been denying access to Kachin for journalists, aid agencies, and international observers. Sky News reported that thousands have died in bombings and attacks that have risen so substantially since January 2018 that Kachin Christians believe that they, too, are now the target of a second campaign of genocide.
Reuters reported that “Myanmar tops a list of countries where the ability of aid groups to reach people in need has worsened in the past six months” and is now the country where access to humanitarian aid has deteriorated the most.
We urge you to pray for Myanmar, and for these agencies and others as they actively seek to assist the persecuted in Myanmar: the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee BRAC), Action Against Hunger, UNICEF, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, the International Rescue Committee, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and the World Food Program.
- Christian Post, Secret Genocide of Christians Reported in Myanmar: Thousands Killed, Pregnant Women Raped
- Open Doors, Myanmar
- The Guardian, ‘Slow genocide’: Myanmar’s invisible war on the Kachin Christian minority
- Christian Post, Rohingya Crisis: Babies Chopped in Half, Mothers and Daughters Gang Raped
- Sky News, Uncovered: ‘Worrying evidence’ of new genocidal campaign on Kachin Christian minority in Myanmar
- Reuters, ‘Acts of genocide’ suspected against Rohingya in Myanmar: U.N.
- Reuters, Aid agencies fear for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh’s island relocation plan
- Reuters, Myanmar is worst-performing country for aid access, as Rohingya refugees face monsoon threats
- New York Times, Helping the Rohingya
- Public Domain, courtesy of Voice of America