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ICC NOTE: The Kachin ethnic group in Northern Burma (Myanmar) has been fighting the Burmese military since the military initiated the conflict in 2011. As early as 2013, 66 church buildings in the region had been destroyed by the Burmese military. The primary reason for the destruction of churches in what seems to be just an ethnic conflict is the fact the Kachin are a majority Christian ethnic group. They and other ethnic minorities continue to adhere to the 1947 agreement which allowed them autonomy and the right to govern themselves based upon their ethnic background. However, the military has all but ignored the agreement for decades. Since the conflict began, thousands of Kachin Christians have been internally displaced or have become refugee of other countries like the Karen during one of the many ethnic cleansing’s in Burma. 

11/23/2015 Yangon, Burma (Morning Star News) – Artillery and air strikes by Burma (Myanmar) government forces on rebel bases in Kachin state in the past week displaced hundreds of ethnic Kachin, a predominantly Christian people long targeted in part because they are not Buddhist.

The Rev. Lama Yaw of the Kachin Baptist Convention, who visited areas near Mohnyin where the offensive intensified on Nov. 15, told Morning Star News by phone that 200 civilians took shelter in area churches after attacks by a jet, helicopter gunships and artillery against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Another Christian leader in Mohnyin told The Irrawaddy newspaper that some 300 villagers had fled their homes on Thursday (Nov. 19) and were taking shelter in his church.

Pastor Yaw said area Christians were shaken by the attacks, which continued through the week, as they have long seen civilians and church buildings targeted by government weaponry and soldiers.

“They dare not go to sleep at home as they fear unexpected attacks, because the Burma Army has done these kinds of attacks and abuses before,” said Pastor Yaw. “Some nearby villagers have gone to sleep at churches in Mohnyin town, as they fear random attacks by the Burma Army.”

After the Burma Army broke a 17-year ceasefire in 2011, by early 2013 the military had destroyed 66 church buildings in Kachin state, according to a 2013 report by the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT). After making Buddhism the state religion in 1961, the government has tacitly supported military atrocities against civilian Christians.

“I feel like they intentionally launched the attacks on the day when Christians held worship,” Pastor Yaw said, referring to the dramatic escalation on Nov. 15 of the offensive that began on a smaller scale the previous day. “Also in 2012, they launched intense attacks on Christmas Eve. They chose the day when ethnic Christians were supposed to enjoy Christmas celebrations with happiness.”

The Kachin are one of several ethnic groups vying for more autonomy, and advocacy organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that decades of conflict in the ethnic states have left hundreds of thousands of people internally displaced or as refugees in other countries.

“It is obvious that they oppress ethnic minorities who are Christian,” Pastor Yaw said.

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