Thousands of Christians Flee Myanmar’s Conflict Zones to Escape Religious Persecution

An ethnic Kayaw attend a mass at the catholic church at Htaykho village in the Kayah state, Myanmar September 13, 2015. With about 30,000 members, the Kayaw are one of the smallest ethnic minorities among Myanmar’s 135 groups.

With an escalation of fighting between ethnic rebel groups and government troops in Myanmar’s conflict areas that are spread along the country’s borders, civilians from ethnic and religious minorities are being forced to flee for safety. Tens of thousands of Christians have taken refuge in Malaysia, according to reports.

More than 100,000 Christians from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, now live in Malaysia as refugees after recently fled their homes because of religious persecution, according to a report by TRT World, Turkey’s national public broadcaster.

“Myanmar isn’t safe for us. They killed people, sent people to jail because of religion,” a Christian refugee was quoted as saying.

Myanmar’s border states have been the scene of some of the world’s longest running civil wars. Ethnic minority groups have been fighting for greater autonomy in their respective states and have been resisting the military’s efforts to assimilate them into the majority Burman culture ever since Burma achieved independence from British rule in 1948.

While Burma’s politics has been dominated by the ethnic Burman majority, most of the country’s estimated 4 million Christians are from ethnic minorities who live in states along the country’s borders with China, Thailand and India.

Some of the ethnic minorities formed their own armies to resist attacks by military personnel, which are often carried out without any provocation. Military attacks include landmine explosions, rape of women, indiscriminate killing of people and forced displacement, according to the World Evangelical Alliance’s Religious Liberty Commission.

Myanmar was ranked 23rd on Open Doors’ World Watch List of places that are most hostile to followers of Christ for their faith, with believers regularly prevented from practicing their religion.

Groups such as the Ma Ba Tha, an organization of radical Buddhist monks, have reportedly pushed to introduce “Protection of Race and Religion” laws, which are said to build “insurmountable hurdles for conversions and religiously mixed marriages.”

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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Anugrah Kumar