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Christians flee violence by Burmese military against ethnic Kachin people

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

Thousands of people from a mainly Christian ethnic group in Burma (Myanmar) have been forced to flee their homes amid fighting between the Burmese military and rebel troops.

Bhamo-in-Kachin-State-4X3.jpg
Bhamo in Kachin State, Burma
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by  Jonas Merian

The violence erupted near the Taping River by the Chinese border in June when a 17-year ceasefire between government forces and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), which controls the territory, was broken.

Burmese troops have cleared entire villages by threatening violence if they come under fire from the KIO’s military wing, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

Lum Hong, a villager from Ng Eng in central Kachin, said:

We are afraid the Burmese soldiers will be attacking our village at any time. We had to leave everything behind. Our cows, our oxen, our farmland. Everything. We don't know when it will be safe to go back.

Last month, government troops seized control of a church in the village of Katsu and turned it into a military outpost, complete with fortifications, trenches and landmines. They have also planted landmines in a schoolyard and along several main roads and taken over houses abandoned by villagers. People have increasingly been subjected to extortion, torture and looting.

Over 20,000 Kachin people are thought to have been displaced by the conflict. An estimated 10,000 have fled to the town of Laiza, where they are being sheltered in cramped conditions in relief camps. They are surviving on meagre rations, relying on donations of food and medicine from churches and individuals. Torrential rains during the monsoon season have created unsanitary conditions, making it difficult to prevent the spread of disease.

Around a further 10,000 are in makeshift camps along the Chinese border, while around 6,000 are believed to have crossed into China seeking safety with relatives.

Over 90 per cent of the 1.2 million Kachins are Christian. It is a strategically important state, lying between India and China, and also rich in resources including gold and jade mines, teakwood, rubber and banana plantations. 

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.

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  • 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 4 hours ago

  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

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