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Myanmar, Burma

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Barnabas provided Kachin refugees with emergency aid, including shoes for
1,000 needy children

The Burmese army is continuing to pursue its agenda of intimidation and violence against ethnic minority groups, the majority of whom are Christians. In Kachin state, soldiers are kidnapping, raping, torturing and killing Christians, apparently with impunity. This is despite a peace deal negotiated between the Burmese government and representatives of the predominantly Christian people group in May 2013, which it was hoped would bring an end to two years of intense suffering endured by our brothers and sisters.

Believers from the Kachin and other mainly Christian ethnic minority groups are persecuted for both their ethnicity and their faith, and continue to suffer great oppression despite Burma’s recent moves towards political reform. In Kachin state, at least 64 women and girls have been raped, 66 churches and 200 villages have been destroyed and nearly 100,000 people have been displaced since July 2011, when the army broke a 17-year ceasefire. Two Kachin people were killed by the army just two weeks after the peace deal was agreed. Then, in early September 2013, women and girls were kidnapped and gang-raped by soldiers who attacked their village. Other villagers, including a church leader, were also kidnapped and were tortured.

Throughout Burma, the authorities have continued to disrupt Christian gatherings, restrict the publication of Christian literature and prevent the construction or repair of church buildings. The government actively promotes conversion to Buddhism. Christians are sometimes forced to help build and maintain Buddhist pagodas and monasteries or to destroy church buildings. In some remote areas, children of very poor Christian families are targeted by special schools, known as Na Ta La, which offer them free food and education as well as government jobs when they graduate. At the schools, they are prevented from practising their faith and are forced to shave their heads in accordance with the teachings of Buddhism. They may be beaten or threatened with military conscription if they resist.

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