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ICC Note:

A call to global prayer for Burma ’s minorities is a much-needed reminder for us to take action against the fact that Christianity is still violently repressed in the country.

AsiaNews (03/10/06) – The Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), which is present in 121 countries, is planning to conduct a global prayer next Sunday for peace and respect of minorities and religions in Myanmar .

“Please, pray for a miracle of peace [. . .] May peace, not power, be the heart desire of all Burmese, especially those in positions of influence and authority. And may peace be accompanied by wisdom, justice, grace and reconciliation,” the WEA appeal read.

In its press release, the alliance reminded the world that the Burmese live under one of the most brutally repressive regimes in the world, defined by a mix of Buddhist and Marxist thought, but really based on naked power, not ideology.

As members of the country’s ethnic minorities, Christians suffer discrimination and endure persecution, for they are in fact disproportionately more represented amongst them.

For instance, the Karen, Burma ‘s largest ethnic minority (around 20 per cent of the population), are 40 percent Christian.

Christianity is also dominant amongst the Kachin of the north and the Chin and Naga of the west.

Minorities are generally pro-democracy and, despite the dictatorship’s attempts to brutally and decisively crush all dissent, they are actively involved in insurgencies, especially in the Shan, Karenni and Karen states.

Myanmar ’s army is infamous for its gross human rights abuses which include forced labour, rape, killings, beheadings, and mutilation.

Internal conflicts have created over a million internally displaced people forced to be constantly on the move through dense jungle, as well as more than a million refugees, mostly in camps in neighbouring countries.

The WEA explains that religious freedom is continuously and systematically violated and that the government relies on Buddhist missionaries to convert Christians.

By contrast, nearly all foreign missionaries were expelled in the mid-1960s and all private schools and hospitals, mostly run by Christian missions, were nationalised.

The military junta has imposed restrictions on evangelisation, the building and repair of church property and the importation and distribution of Christian literature and monitors religious activity to ensure there is no talk of human rights or democracy.

Myanmar ’s population now stands at about 46,000,000: 72 per cent is Buddhist; 2 per cent are Muslims; Christians constitute about 8.3 per cent of the total.