Christians and the Burmese Crackdown

A Burmese Pastor speaks on the situation of the church.

Burmese citizens began peaceful protests for better living standards in mid-August in response to a sudden rise in gas prices in Myanmar. After several hundred Buddhist monks joined them, the Burmese government responded with arrests, a media crackdown, and night raids. It is unclear how many people have been killed in the crackdown.

Myanmar, which was known as Burma before a 1962 military coup, has a long history of rights abuses—and peaceful protest. National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has been under house arrest for almost a decade. Last week Burma's military leader Gen Than Shwe, agreed to meet with her if she would abandon her support of international sanctions on Burma and her "confrontational" stance.

Two ethnic groups—the Karen and the Chin—have historical ties to Christianity. The U. S. State Department estimates that 3 percent of the country's 47 million people are Baptist.

Burmese Christians have been specifically targeted by the regime. Last March, Christian Solidarity Worldwide obtained a leaked government document entitled "Program to Destroy the Christian Religion in Burma."

Pastor David, a Burmese church planter who has been working in Myanmar for the last few years, spoke with CT about the situation of Christians in the country.

What's happening with the protests? Why was the sudden rise in oil prices the catalyst?

The government doubled the price on the morning of August the 15th without any prior notice to the public. So what happened is that there was a sudden raise in the price, buses and public transportation cannot operate. There is simply no public transportation, so people who need to go to work got stranded. There was a lot of chaos. ...

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