By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
YANGON (Worthy News) – Christian rights investigators have urged believers to pray for faith communities after a new report suggested that Myanmar’s minority Christians face genocide by the ruling military.
The 2022 report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said Christians suffer similar treatment as the genocide against the mainly Muslim Rohingya community in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
“Faith communities, including ethnoreligious Christian minorities, now face persecution that some have likened to what the Rohingya have faced since 2017,” the report stressed.
The attacks against Christians worsened since the military coup of February 2021 that ousted Myanmar’s democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and her government.
Suu Kyi went on trial Monday in a new corruption case against her for allegedly taking $550,000 in bribes from a construction magnate.
She is charged with two counts under the country’s Anti-Corruption Act, with each count punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine.
11 YEARS JAIL
Suu Kyi was already sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for allegedly illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, sedition, and another corruption charge. Her supporters say the charges are politically motivated to prevent her from running in a possible 2023 election.
With the junta firmly in charge, there were no indications Tuesday that life would improve for minority Christians and others seen as a threat to its power base in the mainly Buddhist nation.
The military, known as Tatmadaw, “has closely associated itself with Buddhist nationalism to promote its legitimacy,” noted the USCIRF.
The Tatmadaw persecutes Myanmar’s small Christian community “both for their religion and ethnicity,” said Barnabas Fund, a Christian advocate and aid charity.
Christians, estimated at 6.2 percent of the population, belong mainly to the Chin, Kachin, and Karen ethnic groups, according to experts.
“Violent attacks against Chin, Kachin, and Karen Christians – as well as believers in Shan and Kayah states – have increased since the February 2021 coup,” Barnabas Fund said.
35 PEOPLE KILLED
In one of the worst known incidents in December 2021, the Tatmadaw was accused of shooting and burning at least 35 civilians in a Christian area of Kayah State. In January 2022, ten civilians, including a 13-year-old boy, were killed in Chin State, Christians said.
Earlier in September last year, a pastor was reportedly shot dead as he tried to put out a fire by soldiers attacking Thantlang township, also in Chin State. “At least five church buildings and 450 houses were subsequently burned down,” Barnabas Fund told Worthy News.
It said it urged believers to “Pray for the Lord’s help for all His people in Myanmar who face continued violence. Ask that any genocidal intent towards Christians or other religious and ethnic minorities in that country will be thwarted.”
Barnabas Fund is also praying “for Buddhist extremists, filled with hate. That their hearts will be changed through the ongoing witness of Myanmar’s believers to the saving power of Christ.”
Amid ongoing violence, which displaced thousands, the USCIRF urged the U.S. government to “re-designate Burma as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC.
The CPC status would show the military is “engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).”
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