Thursday, March 14, 2013

Burma - warning against euphoria over reforms, as military targets minorities Attacks against Kachin Christians and Muslim Rohingyas continue

Dha Der Church in Burma, seen here in October 2010,
 was rebuilt 18 months later (World Watch Monitor)

Christians around the world who have been praying for Burma have been warned against ‘euphoria’ over reform, while Christian and Muslim minorities remain under attack by the military.

Sunday March 10th, 2013, the 16th anniversary of the Global Day of Prayer for Burma (started by Aung San Suu Kyi), celebrated some progress, but warned that grave issues remained, especially continuing attacks against the Kachin and Rohingya minorities.

The Day of Prayer followed a new report claiming government troops have destroyed 66 churches in Kachin State in the north of Burma, and are using rape as a weapon of war. The report, by the Kachin Women's Association of Thailand (KWAT), also claimed the military are using rape as a weapon of war. Speakers in London said non-Buddhist religious minorities were being deliberately targeted under a policy of Burmanisation. The aim was to unite the country under the army and under Buddhism.

A speaker for the Kachin National Organisation accused the President of Burma, Thein Sein (who has been visiting Europe) of lying over his claim to have ordered a ceasefire with the Kachin. Hkanhpa Sadan demanded that the president be indicted for war crimes for calling down air strikes against the Kachin in December 2012 and January 2013.

According to reports, more than 100,000 Kachin have been displaced since the ceasefire collapsed in 2011, and in Rakhine State, to the west, more than 120,000 Muslim Rohingya have been driven from their homes. Many are starving.

The international prayer event coincided with the first party congress in Burma of the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi. In London, disappointment was expressed over the Nobel Peace laureate’s failure to intervene to protect the ethnic minorities under attack from the Burma army.

The European Union is currently reviewing a temporary suspension of sanctions against Burma. British Parliamentarian Baroness Cox, who has just returned from Kachin State, confirmed to the BBC that military attacks were continuing against the Kachin and called on the EU to maintain sanctions against Burma.

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Copyright 2013 World Watch Monitor

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