Tuesday, May 19, 2015

RLPB 310. BURMA: terrorising the Christian Kachin

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 310 | Wed 20 May 2015

-- plus, Sudan Update
By Elizabeth Kendal

It would not be unreasonable to think of Burma as the Sudan of Asia. In Sudan, an Arab-supremacist Islamist regime rules from the centre, marginalising the state's peripheral ethnic nations and persecuting them on racial and religious grounds.
click on map to enlarge
In Burma, a Burman (or Bama)-supremacist Buddhist regime rules from the centre, marginalising the state's peripheral ethnic nations and persecuting them on racial and religious grounds. When the oppressed and persecuted resist and demand their rights, these regimes spare no effort to crush them with extreme violence fuelled by deep-seated racial and religious hatred. Western silence is dictated by Realpolitik -- politics based on 'interests' rather than on morals and ethics. It is simply not in the West's interests to advocate for the victims of genocide in Darfur or the Nuba Mountains. Likewise, it is not in the West's economic or geo-strategic interests to advocate for the victims of violent persecution and ethnic cleansing in Burma when it has just opened its resources and markets to the West. To ensure Burma does not drift back into China's sphere of influence the West turns a blind eye to the persecution. However, nothing is hidden from God  for our God is 'el Roi' -- the God who sees (Genesis 16:13).

The Kachin nation (pale green on the map) are a Christian people living in Burma's mountainous far north where the Irrawaddy River has its source. Not only does the regime covet Kachin State's jade, gold and timber, it also wants to dam the Irrawaddy. If it is ever completed, the Myitsone Dam Project will be managed by the state-owned Chinese Power Investment Corporation (CPI) and will be generating hydroelectric power for China. Whilst the dam will cause the Kachin to lose vast swathes of land and more than 60 villages, the Burmese regime stands to make a great deal of money from it. Therefore what the regime really wants is Kachin State without the Kachin.
A Kachin IDP
In its war against the Christian Kachin, the Burmese army (officially known as the Tatmadaw) routinely targets harmless, defenceless Kachin civilians. Gross insecurity has driven more than 100,000 traumatised Kachin from their homes into IDP (internally displaced persons) camps sustained mostly by the Church. Peace is illusive. 'When the Burmese army talks about a cease-fire, they mean stopping shooting for a short while,' says Manam Tu Shan, a 67-year-old Kachin church deacon in Laiza. 'But what we mean by a cease-fire is living peacefully and being able to practise our traditions without the Burmese interfering.'

Humanitarian aid group, the Free Burma Rangers reports that on 19 January in Kawng Hka Village in Northern Shan State, two Kachin girls -- Maran Lu Ra (20) and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin (21) -- were savagely raped and then clubbed to death by Burmese soldiers. The girls, missionaries sent out by the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), had been asleep in the KBC church compound when they were attacked. Church members reported the crime but no action was taken. On 21 March Burmese soldiers shot and killed civilians Dau Ma La (52) and his 103-year-old mother, Da Shi Hka, in Mansi Township and looted their property. On 9 May Burmese soldiers shot Min Htet (40), a civilian farmer and father of two from the Mung Hkawng IDP Camp.  Min, who had been outside the camp tending to his pigs, survived the shooting only to be knifed repeated in the eyes and face by soldiers who then beat him to death. Though Hpaure Htu (30) was also shot, she managed to escape. On 6 May the Kachin Army clashed with Burmese troops near Mansi Township. A 'little bit of fighting' continued into the next day. Then on 8 May, while President Thein Sein was meeting with ethnic leaders to negotiate a national ceasefire, two fighter jets were bombing the Kachin into submission.


* comfort and sustain Kachin families who are grieving the loss of loved ones brutally and savagely murdered; please pray specifically for the families of missionaries Maran Lu Ra and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin and farmer Min Htet. May the Lord grant them that divine peace 'which surpasses all understanding', that it might guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 ESV)

* intervene on behalf of the Christian Kachin, to protect and sustain them as a Christian people; may the Lord shield them, provide all their needs, refine and sanctify them, increasing their faith, that ultimately God will be glorified.

* graciously pour out his Holy Spirit on the Burmese Church to sanctify her and fuel revival.

* quicken the eyes, ears, hearts and minds of ethnic Burman Buddhists (including monks) so they will receive with joy the Gospel of peace, love, truth and salvation by grace.

* infiltrate the Burmese military through gospel literature, Christian radio and the Jesus film. 'Truly I understand that God shows no partiality ... everyone who believes in [Jesus Christ] receives forgiveness of sins through his name.' (Peter in the house of Cornelius the centurion soldier -- Acts 10).


SUDAN UPDATE: Middle East Concern has confirmed that the trial in Khartoum of Pastors Michael Yat (49) and Peter Yen Reith (36) [see RLPB 309 (12 May 2015)] commenced on 19 May. The prosecutor did not finish making his case, and so will continue when the trial resumes on Sunday 31 May. '... be constant in prayer' (from Romans 12:12 ESV).

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Burma is ruled by a Burman-supremacist Buddhist regime that marginalises and persecutes all Burma's non-Burman and non-Buddhist peoples. Whilst the junta's long-running war against the Christian Kachin of Burma's far north is motivated by greed for the Kachins' resources, the Burmese military's extreme violence is motivated by deep-seated racial and religious hatred. In January two young Kachin women missionaries were raped and clubbed to death by Burmese soldiers in the Kachin Baptist Convention church compound in Northern Shan State where they lived. Civilians are routinely targeted -- over 100,000 have fled their homes. The West turns a blind eye to the persecution to protect its economic and geo-strategic interests and to ensure Burma does not drift back into China's sphere of influence. Please pray for the Church in Burma.


Elizabeth Kendal is the author of