The situation in Christian areas has taken a turn for the worse since the military took control in February 2021. Fighting has increased across the country and the Christian minority is bearing the brunt of these attacks. More Christians than ever have become internally displaced people or refugees, and are living in camps or churches without adequate food and healthcare.
The daily reality is that Christians do not enjoy the same rights and legal protection as the Buddhist majority. Christians are often victims of violent attacks conducted with impunity. Even in predominantly Christian states like Chin State and Kayah State, long-established churches have suffered attacks and Christian aid workers and pastors have been killed. Government forces attack Christian villages and churches, while Buddhist monasteries remain largely untouched.
Converts to Christianity also face persecution from their Buddhist, Muslim or tribal families and are shunned from community life. Communities that aim to stay 'Buddhist only' make life for Christian families impossible by barring their access to community water resources. Non-traditional church groups experience opposition too, especially those located in rural areas and those who are known for proselytising.
The ongoing civil war between Myanmar's ethnic armed groups and the military is disproportionately affecting Christian communities in majority Christian states such as Chin, Kachin, Karen and Kayah states. In Kachin State and Northern Shan State, where fighting is escalating, Christians are being killed, detained and forced to flee.
Converts from a Buddhist, Muslim or tribal background face the strongest pressure to renounce their faith, especially from their family and community. The small number of Christian converts from a Muslim background who live among the Rohingya Muslim community are especially vulnerable, and face persecution both because of their ethnic affiliation, and because their Muslim families and communities put them under enormous pressure to return to Islam.
“If they hate someone, they are not afraid to kill them, no remorse nor guilt. That’s the way it is here.”Naomi, a pastor's wife
2022 brought the country further than ever from a solution to the violent conflict which started when the army staged a coup on 1 February 2021. Fighting has continued and, in some parts of the country, increased and the Christian minority is among those bearing the brunt of attacks. Christians have been killed and churches attacked and destroyed. The government has much work to do to become more inclusive of ethnic and religious minorities, including Christians.
Working through local partners, Open Doors strengthens persecuted believers in Myanmar through literature distribution, discipleship programmes, livelihood support and various forms of training.
Heavenly Father, the weight of this long conflict in Myanmar threatens to eliminate hope and unity in Myanmar's population. Encourage Your people and let them know that we stand with them in their pain. Strengthen our brothers and sisters with the fellowship, training and everyday provision that they need. Thank You for the powerful ways in which You are working through the church during this difficult time. Give Christians courage, resources and revelation as they seek to respond to this crisis. Bring an end to the conflict. Amen.