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Burmese military rape and murder women from mainly Christian ethnic group

Country/Region: Myanmar, Burma, South and East Asia

Women from a mainly Christian ethnic group are being raped and murdered by the Burmese military as government forces intensify their offensive in Kachin State.

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Human rights activists are reporting an increased incidence of rape against Kachin women since the government broke a 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Organisation, which controls the territory, by attacking ethnic forces in June.

The Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT), which has been documenting incidents, reported 18 cases of gang rape over an eight day period in June shortly after fighting broke out between the Burmese military and the Kachin Independence Army. Four of the victims were killed after being raped.

KWAT said that in one village, soldiers caught three families who had not managed to flee in time; six women and girls were gang-raped, and seven small children killed.

IRIN, the news service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said on 26 September that the number of reported rapes to date that month was 37 in areas where government troops are active.

David Scott Mathieson, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, said:

The use of sexual violence is one of the most serious within a whole litany of abuses that include forced labour, torture and ill-treatment and extra-judicial execution.

Escalating crisis

More than 25,000 people are now believed to have been displaced by the fighting as the Burmese army repeatedly attacks Kachin villages.

Most internally displaced persons are living in temporary bamboo shelters with plastic sheet roofing at makeshift camps on the Chinese border. They are surviving on a small amount of rice a day as Kachin aid groups are running out of means to help them. Crowded living conditions, poor sanitation and lack of clean water have led to illness and the death of a number of children. At one site, 2,000 people are sharing ten toilets.

Over 90 per cent of the 1.2 million Kachins are Christian. Most Christians in Burma are members of non-Burman ethnic minorities; they are frequently targeted by the military, partly for their ethnicity and partly for their faith.

A Kachin leader said:

They want to wipe out our ethnic group and force us to become Buddhists like them, speak like them and become one of them.

The military has been pushing into other border areas including Shan and Karen. Many analysts believe that they want to access and control areas that are rich in energy resources to supply neighbouring China with electricity.

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  • Praise God for the release of John Short, an Australian missionary who was detained in North Korea for distributing Christian leaflets. John, who is 75 and based in Hong Kong, was reported to security officials in Pyongyang after he was spotted leaving a Christian leaflet at a Buddhist temple, an act that is illegal in North Korea. Further Korean-language Christian pamphlets were subsequently found in his hotel room. John, who was released on 3 March after two weeks in custody, was required to sign a confession probably scripted by the authorities. Other foreign missionaries arrested in North Korea have been given long prison sentences. Give thanks to God that John has escaped further punishment, and pray for him as he recovers from his traumatic ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 4 hours ago

  • Pray for Barnabas Fund partners in South Sudan who have been supporting Christians forced from their homes by violence. Conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar in December and January displaced around 860,000 people. Churches were burned down and a number of pastors killed, while many people lost their belongings and were left destitute. Give thanks that churches in and around the capital, Juba, were able to provide food and other essentials to many families with help from Barnabas. Pray that they may continue to be salt and light in their country at this unstable time (Matthew 5:13-16), and that it will soon be safe for displaced Christians to return home. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for the residents of a mainly Christian village in Borno state, Northern Nigeria, in the aftermath of a horrific attack by Boko Haram militants on 15 February. Ask for God’s comfort for the relatives and friends of the 106 people in Izghe who were gunned down and slaughtered in their houses or in the open as they tried to flee. Pray for strength for the numerous residents who were wounded or whose properties were looted and torched. Pray too for the many Christians who fled into the neighbouring state after the attack, and ask that the Christian community in the North of Nigeria will be preserved in the face of Islamist violence. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

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