Danger for Christians in Myanmar

On February 1, Myanmar’s military detained re-elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup de tat on over alleged election fraud.

With this new development, Open Doors Asia expresses concern over the welfare of believers in the country, especially Christians from the Chin, Kachin, and Shan States.

“In the last half century the junta (military group) has been systematically persecuting Christians. If this will happen now, remains to be seen,” says Jan Vermeer, Open Doors Communications Director for Asia. “For decades, believers have been oppressed and threatened by the army and this has largely been ignored by the world because they live in places that are really remote. The army has been very successful in keeping these regions isolated.”

“As the military seizes power and detains the country's leaders, all communication lines like phone and internet have been cut off,” says another local Open Doors partner. Television channels have also been unavailable except for the military channel and banks have also been closed throughout the nation due to lack of cell service. “We are cut off from our contacts inside the country, but we are doing our best to monitor the situation.”

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The re-elected Suu Kyi represents the National League of Democracy (NLD), which notably won the army-contested November 2020 election. She, along with President Win Myint and other members of NLD have been arrested in Monday morning by state forces. Suu Kyi has remained a figurehead of democracy in the country despite international backlash over her response to the Rohingya genocide.

Myanmar has been subjected to the world’s longest lasting civil war, and transition to democracy has been slow. In the past decades, during which the country had been under the military junta, persecution against Christians has been systemic. This is particularly prevalent in the Chin and Kachin states, in which almost 90% of the population are Christian. Myanmar’s staunch Buddhist military has long been flagged for human rights abuses against this population, with churches being closed down, and believers being beaten for their faith.

Myanmar placed 18th on the 2021 World Watch List. Researchers note that the Myanmar army and pro-military government officials are very influenced by Buddhist nationalist sentiment and would often regard Christians as second-class citizens.

“As we wait for things to unfold in Myanmar, let’s be watchful,” says Vermeer. “Pray for God’s protection over His church. Pray that this new development would not harm our brothers and sisters in the Chin Hills.”

Pray

  • Pray that the Lord will intervene and bring a peaceful resolution to the ongoing civil war, particularly to the ongoing coup. 
  • Pray for the safety of Christians during the conflict.

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