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11/30/2018 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – An ethnic Wa militia, in northern Myanmar has been forcibly recruiting young adults into joining them for the last few months. Yesterday, a Lahu Baptist leader announced that four more Bible school students who were forcibly recruited earlier managed to escape after two months.

This happened just after 17 male students, escaped making it to safety in the eastern Shan state of Kengtung, earlier this month. Reverend Lazarus, the general secretary of the Lahu Baptist Convention in Kyaing Tong said that all 21 of the students are now safe, receiving medical care, and are given food.

Reverend Lazarus, shared that the recent four who came to safety had a lot of issues when they initially arrived, stating that they were suffering from psychological problems, but he stated that now “they are coping with it as they now feel safe taking refuge in the church.”

The four students told Reverend Lazarus that they were forced to attend a military training by the United Wa State Army (UWSA). During the training they were required to use firearms. The four managed to escape into the jungle, but spent days in the jungle without food before coming to safety.

Lahu Baptist leaders have been struggling with these forced recruitments since mid-September when the first group of students were forcibly recruited. The Mong Pawk township where the students were taken from, has encountered 52 church closures and 3 churches completely destroyed. The Bible school where the students were taken from has also been closed down.

Many believe that China is pressuring the USWA to conduct these campaigns of closing churches and Christians schools, along with forcibly recruiting young Christians into the UWSA. The Lahu Baptist Church leader sent letters to the UWSA and the Myanmar Human Rights Commission (MHRC) in mid-October demanding the churches be re-opened, but as of date they have not heard anything back regarding the letter they sent.

For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: