In 87% Buddhist Myanmar (Burma), the identity of the ethnic Burman majority is tied to Buddhism. Christianity is portrayed as a foreign religion. Most Christians are from non-Burman ethnic minorities including the Chin, Karen and Kachin.
Ethnic minority Christians are offered free education at Buddhist schools, but all pupils must study and practise Buddhism. Those who officially convert will have their national identity cards amended to their new religion and be guaranteed a government job.
For decades, the military-controlled government has brutally oppressed Christian and Muslim ethnic minority groups. Hundreds of thousands of them have been displaced, often by aerial bombardment, and many are living in IDP (internally displaced persons) camps. In 2020, about 100,000 ethnic Kachin, who are predominantly Christian, remained scattered across 138 IDP camps where, in crowded conditions with little sanitation, they were at great risk from coronavirus.
The “persecutory intent” and “ethnic cleansing” tactics used by the Myanmar Army against the Kachin were condemned in a 2018 United Nations Human Rights Council report that included many testimonies of torture, rape and other abuses by military personnel.
Since 2019, Chin Christians have been caught in the middle of fighting between the Myanmar Army and the rebel Arakan Army. The conflict has killed 260 civilians and displaced more than 160,000. In 2020, thousands endured severe food shortages for at least six months because the government put up road blockades, cutting off food supplies to the area. In March, traumatised Chin Christians fled for their lives after military jets opened fire on their villages, killing at least 28 people and burning many homes. The Chin ethnic group is about 90% Christian and Chin State is very poor.
Lift up Chin, Karen and Kachin Christians, and other brutally persecuted ethnic minorities in Myanmar including Rohingya (mainly Muslims). Pray that they will be given strength to endure hardship in IDP camps and all who have lost loved ones will be comforted. Ask that military and complicit government leaders will turn in horror from their atrocities.
The above content can also be found in the Praying for the Persecuted Church (2021-2022) booklet