Burma bombing drives out Christians

YANGON, Burma — The Burma (Myanmar) military in April bombed predominantly Christian, ethnic Kachin civilians and restricted aid to an estimated 4,000 displaced villagers trapped in the wilds, sources said.

Burma government forces fired artillery and dropped bombs on Awng Lawt village in mid-April near the northern town of Tanai, Kachin state, sending 2,000 villagers fleeing their homes, according to local Christian leaders. Sin Gau, a member of Kachin Baptist Convention, said the Burma army also bombed bases of the rebel Kachin Independence Army and civilians in nearby villages. Sin Gau said the Burma army also restricted access of aid into conflict-stricken areas where villagers are trapped.

Christian ethnic minorities have long suffered in Burma, where the government has recognized the special status of Buddhism and promoted it as a means to consolidate support. Burma is about 80 percent Buddhist and 9 percent Christian. The Burma military routinely occupies churches and summons entire congregations for interrogation, according to a report the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released in December 2016.

Burma ranked 24th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. (MS)