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Myanmar: Rohingya Christians Are ‘The Oppressed of the Oppressed’

In Myanmar, Christians make up about 8.2 percent of the population. The overwhelming majority of these are Protestants, with Roman Catholics comprising most of the rest; there is, however, a small community of Armenian Orthodox Christians. The Armenian Apostolic Church  severed communion with the Holy Mother Church of Constantinople in 451. Here the BBC presents a fascinating look into their community in Myanmar.

For more coverage of the persecution of Christians in Myanmar, see here.

“Rohingya Christians: The Oppressed of the Oppressed,” International Christian Concern, August 7, 2023:

08/07/2023 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) — The Rohingya are among the world’s most oppressed groups. But within the Rohingya there is a subgroup who are the oppressed of the oppressed. They are the Rohingya Christians. The Burmese military violates them for being Rohingya, and then their fellow Rohingya violate them for being Christian.

Following a series of military crackdowns that many consider a genocide, more than 1 million Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine State have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, where most of them inhabit the Kutupalong refugee camp, which is the world’s largest such camp.

A large factor in the ongoing persecution of Rohingyas is that there is no country with much incentive to defend them. The vast majority of Rohingyas have no citizenship anywhere. Technically speaking, everyone has a right to citizenship. But there remain millions of people across the world who are stateless.

The Burmese government refuses to even use the term “Rohingya,” as it considers the people to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. During Myanmar’s 2014 national census, the government was forcing Rohingyas to declare themselves as “Bengali.”

In 2017, the situation became far more deadly for Myanmar’s Rohingyas, the majority of whom had to flee the country and eke out a life in the Kutupalong refugee camp.

In such a venue, the present and future can seem quite bleak for anyone. But they are more precarious yet for the Rohingya Christians — who often face threats, beatings, and the vandalism and looting of their homes. Some attacks have seen as many as a dozen Rohingya Christians injured and hospitalized.

Recent Rohingya Christian converts might be kidnapped and brought to a mosque for forced reversion to Islam. Or a Rohingya Christian girl might be kidnapped and then forcibly married to one of her Muslim kidnappers. In one such case, the girl’s father, a Christian pastor, was murdered.

Christians might also have to contend with false accusations, ranging all the way up to accusations of murder. Such circumstances mean that people who are already destitute might have to pay legal fees to defend themselves in court.

The main culprit behind these abuses is the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Rohingya rebel group that has carried out attacks against the Burmese military, as well as Rohingya Christians. Mohammad Sadeq, a Rohingya Christian, says that more than half of Rohingya Muslims is in favor of ARSA attacks against Rohingya Christians.

Peter Saiful, a pastor at the Bethel Church: Rohingya Christian Fellowship, estimates that about 70% of Rohingya Muslims support the anti-Christian attacks. He adds that this is “because of their Islamic scholars” who preach “hate speech against Christianity.”

Saiful, who is also a resident of the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, acknowledges that “there are a lot of good Muslims,” but if they “raise their voice” then groups like ARSA “will kill them.”

At this point, it is rare for a Rohingya Muslim to be friends with a Rohingya Christian. “If they are found to be friends with the Rohingya Christians, they would be expelled from their community or they would be beaten to death by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army,” said Sadeq….

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