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10/02/2018 Burma (International Christian Concern) – In September, ethnic Wa rebels in eastern Burma have shut down at least 10 churches and detained 92 Christian leader. Additionally, the militants burned crosses, destroyed church property, and closed over 52 schools that were operated by Christians. In the process of closing the schools, they abducted 42 students and the students have allegedly been forced to join the Wa State Army.

Christian leaders said that the United Wa State Army (UWSA) militants predominantly follow tribal religions and are seeking to stop the spread of Christianity. One local leader stated that “the Wa officials instructed [us] not even to worship at home these days.”

The UWSA released a statement about the detainees and the church closures stating that they “arrested and interrogated the religious leaders for violating organization regulations and laws prohibiting foreigners to serve as religious leaders in Wa-controlled areas.” In their statement, they also accused Christians of forcing ethnic people to convert.

U Nyi Rang, the general secretary of the UWAS commented saying that Christians “were propagating Christianity by belittling traditional religious practices. That’s why they were arrested and their churches were closed.” 

Violence and persecution against Christians in Burma continues to rise. According to Open Door’s 2018 World Watch list, Burma is the 24th most difficult country to be a Christian.

For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].