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01/09/2012 Burma (CDN) – Attacks on Christians in Burma continued into the Christmas season in Kachin state as Burmese Army troops killed a civilian and destroyed church property despite President Thein Sein’s order to stop the war against insurgents.
A Baptist church in Loije, Bhamo district, held a funeral on Dec. 27 for 47-year-old Maran Zau Ja, who was shot dead without provocation by Burmese Army ’s Light Infantry Battalion No. 321 on Christmas Day, a Kachin source told Compass by phone.
Zau Ja was a farmer who was returning from his sugarcane field with a friend when troops sprayed bullets at them. His friend survived the gunshots.
The two were not armed insurgents of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) that has fought for autonomy in the Christian-majority state since the early 1960s, when then-Burmese Prime Minister U Nu made Buddhism the state religion.
About 90 percent of the roughly 56 million people in Burma, also known as Myanmar, are Buddhist, mostly from the Burman ethnic group. Burmese soldiers see “all Kachin civilians as the enemy,” the Kachin News Group recently quoted a Kachin village elder as saying.
On Dec. 16, troops of Light Infantry Battalion No. 142 burned a building housing the kitchen of a Baptist church in Dingga village, also in Bhamo district, the source added. KIA men and local villagers managed to save the church building, but the fire engulfed five homes.

Thailand-based activist Shirley Seng of the Kachin Women’s Association told Compass that civilians have been living in fear since military action hit Kachin state last June, and that her research team found that women and children were most affected by the war. At least 37 women and girls were raped during the first two months of the conflict, she said – 13 of them killed.
She added that other girls and women continue to be abducted.
“They just disappear after being abducted,” Seng said. “Perhaps they are first sexually abused and then killed or sold to brothels.”

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