Burma Military Closes Down Evangelical Church, Group Says


Thursday, September 8, 2005
By BosNewsLife News Center

RANGOON, BURMA (BosNewsLife)-- Burma's military government has closed down a major evangelical church and movement in the capital Rangoon as part of a fresh crackdown on Christian congregations across the Asian nation, a well informed advocacy group said Wednesday, September 7.

US-based Christian Freedom International (CFI), which works in Burma among persecuted Christians, said it had received "a report yesterday that the Full Gospel Assembly, a fast growing church movement in the Kyauktada Township of Rangoon, was ordered by the military government to shut down."

Officials of the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) allegedly "ordered Reverend Mung Tawng of the Full Gospel Assembly to cease all activities."

CFI quoted an "unnamed Burmese source" as urging Christians around the world "to pray for Burma". The Christian source said "it is a sad thing to hear that many churches have been shut down in Burma. Let us not forget the fact that freedom of worship is also one of the rights we have as human beings," CFI reported in a statement to BosNewsLife.

US CONCERNED

Since 1999, the United States has designated Burma, a nation the military calls Myanmar, as a "Country of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly "severe violations of religious freedom."

The SPDC, a group of generals, has denied human rights abuses and recent reports of a coup attempt against its leadership. There was no immediate official reaction to the CFI claims.

Human rights watchers have linked the reported actions against churches and ethnic minorities with a significant Christian population to fears within the military that the spread of Christianity will undermine its powerbase as it is seen as a foreign, Western backed, religion.

NO CONSTITUTION

The SPDC has ruled Burma without a constitution or legislature since 1988 after suppressing nationwide anti-military protests. The Union of Burma became a sovereign nation in 1948, but democratic rule ended in 1962 with a military coup d’etat.

In 1990, the country held its first free election in almost three decades, but the landslide victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD) was annulled by the military and the junta refused to step down.

Last month the SPDC also banned the US-based National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), the Federation of the Trade Union of Burma (FTUB), the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), and the Shan State Army (SSA), which merged with another group in May to fight the military government. (With BosNewsLife Research, Stefan J. Bos and reports from Burma).

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