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Myanmar: Military steps up operations against Christian minority

The Christians of Myanmar are being harassed and persecuted by the Myanmar government.

Christians make up about 8.2 percent of the population of Myanmar. Most of these Christians are Protestants, with Roman Catholics comprising most of the rest; there is, however, a small community of Christians who belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, which broke communion with Holy Orthodoxy after the fourth ecumenical council, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, over its definition of the two natures of Christ, divine and human. Also, 13th century inscriptions in Greek have been discovered in Myanmar, indicating that there may have once been a Greek Orthodox presence there.

Please pray for a relaxation of this persecution, for the strengthening of Myanmar’s Christian community, and for a new introduction of Holy Orthodoxy into this beautiful and suffering nation.

“Burmese military steps up operations against Christian minority,” by Hollie McKay, Fox News, February 6, 2019:

The Burmese military has stepped up its operations against the country’s mostly Christian minority and driven hundreds more from their homes and jobs, according to human rights groups, as the conflict between the government and the Karen ethnic group marks its 70th anniversary.

“Violations of the (2015) nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA) and clashes have resumed. In January 2019 alone, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) were forced to destroy at least five Burma Army military vehicles attempting to attack deeper into Karen territory, and the Burma Army has begun shelling Karen civilian villages,” Ephraim Mattos, East Asia Operations Manager for The Nazarene Fund, told Fox News. “These clashes are happening in several places along the same road that caused major problems last year.”

Since Burma gained independence from the British in 1948, ethnic minorities – perhaps most significantly the Karen – have been locked in a simmering succession of war and alleged crimes against humanity in their quest to establish and maintain their independence. The Karen National Union (KNU), a political organization that represents the interests of the minority Karen and whose armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), agreed to what was hailed as a landmark agreement in 2015.

But that piece of paper has not put a stop the fighting.

“From January 18 until today, the Burma Army has been launching mortars from two different military outposts at civilian villages in an ongoing series of coordinated attacks,” said Mattos. While there have been no reports yet of civilian casualties, at least 200 Karen villagers – more than 80 percent of whom are Christian and facing the Buddhist-majority military – are said to be hiding in the jungle.

“However, dozens of village animals – their livelihood – have been killed or wounded. All of this was the week leading up to the January 31st 70th anniversary of the war. Mortars from both bases simultaneously have been targeting the same areas,” Mattos contended. “The mortar barrages last anywhere from 1 to 12 hours and have killed dozens of livestock in the villages.”

Further documented violations allege that on the evening of Jan. 24, the Burma Army fired on Karen civilians walking in the hills around their own villages, screaming and taunting them as civilians ran for safety. No one was injured. Then on Jan. 31 – the 70th anniversary of the Karen Revolution – the Burma Army opened fire with mortars and machine-gun fire on KNLA defensive positions in the Paw Kay Kho area.

The uptick in skirmishes this year alone has prompted hundreds from the already impoverished minority to flee their homes. One exclusive video shot by the Nazarene Fund’s relief team on Jan. 25 in the Paw Kay Kho area, and viewed by Fox News, shows a female village leader carrying her belongings and fleeing apparent fighting.

“The Burma Army is shooting mortars and it not safe to live in the village. We are moving to the head of the river,” the leader informs the aid worker, detailing that her buffalo were hit with mortar rounds and that her entire family was afraid to stay in their homes. In another video, shot on the same day in the same area, children are seen fleeing apparent conflict.

A third video taken on Jan. 26 in Paw Kay Kho – filmed by the KNLA defense fighters – shows them seemingly holding defensive positions in preparation for a potential Burma Army ground assault. They claim all the background shooting is “coming from the Burma Army who are firing into Karen areas in violation of the NCA.”…

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