For decades the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) has persecuted the country’s small Christian community, estimated at 6.2% of the population, for their faith and ethnicity. Attacks against the Christian-majority Chin, Kachin and Karen ethnic groups – and other groups with significant Christian minorities, including the Kayah (Karenni) people – have increased again since the military overthrew the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup in February 2021.
The military represents the dominant national identity of ethnic Burman (or Bamar) Buddhists – Myanmar is 68% Bamar and 88% Buddhist. Many Christians have been killed in land and air assaults on their communities, and tens of thousands of believers have been driven from their homes to seek refuge in the jungle.
Some have been forced to flee more than once. Many Christians have crossed into Thailand or India. Even camps for internally displaced people within Myanmar are not safe; a 13-year-old girl and her father were killed by a Tatmadaw shell at a camp in Kayah State in July 2022. In March 2022 the US Commission on International Religious Freedom likened the treatment of Christians by the Tatmadaw to the genocide the military has perpetrated against Myanmar’s Muslim-majority Rohingya since 2017.
Amnesty International, in a report dated May 2022, described atrocities against Karen and Karenni civilians in Karen and Kayah states as “likely amounting to crimes against humanity”. Amnesty reported widespread use of arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial executions of civilians.
In March 2022 a Kayah aid group estimated that 10,000 people sheltering in the jungle were at risk of starvation because of military roadblocks. In June Christian-majority Chin said they were being excluded from receiving international aid because distribution was being administered by the military.
Pray for an end to the violence carried out by the military against Christians and others in Myanmar. Ask for the Lord’s protection for His people and all who are forced to flee attack. Pray that aid supplied by Barnabas will continue to get through to displaced Christians.
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.