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Kachin Christians forced to pay tax for Buddhist holiday

ICC Note

Local government officials in Burma forced Christians to pay “donations” for Buddhist Water Festival. Burmese officials discriminate against and persecute Christian minorities in the country.

04/17/2009 Burma (AsiaNews)- Myanmar ’s military junta has forced Kachin Christians in Kachin State (northern Myanmar ) to make a “donation” for Thingyan, the Buddhist Water Festival, which marks the start of the Burmese New Year, on 12 April this year, and which ended yesterday.

Christian sources, cited by the Kachin News Group (KNG), said that donations in the Bhamo District were raised forcibly by local government officials.

According to local Christians, they had to pay a fixed amount as set by local administrators.

A Kachin Christian from Min Hla neighbourhood, home to about 50 Protestant and Catholic families, said that he had to contribute 1,000 kyat (about US$ 145) to the Thingyan fund last week as well as 500 kyat in municipal taxes as “requested by the authorities.”

Both sources confirm that these fees are compulsory with government officials going house to house to make sure that everyone has paid up.

The sources noted that every Christian family was visited. Only parish churches and clergymen’s homes were spared.

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