Christians Are Hopeful About Election Results in Myanmar, Part 1
By ICC’s Myanmar Correspondent
01/14/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – In terms of topography and culture, Myanmar is a very diverse nation. Although some states do represent the eight major ethnic groups, many sub-ethnic groups and other minorities are spread out in various states or regions. As National League for Democracy (NLD) party led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi won another 5-year term with a landslide victory, the election result showed a shared commonality among the population: people in Myanmar—from various background, situations, issues, and problems at local levels—want this government. ICC spoke with people across the country and learned about their expectations from this government.
Rev. Dr. Zaw Win Aung, Mandalay district superintendent from Methodist Church, said to ICC, “I welcome and congratulate the NLD party’s landslide victory. First of all, NLD managed to conduct successful elections during this kind of difficult time for the country. Secondly, this victory came from their continuous efforts to deal with all the ongoing issues. As a result, they even won back some of the constituencies they lost last time.”
He added, “To talk about my expectations for the next five years, I must start from the last five years. This government truly cherishes the different religions in the country. They carefully promoted free education for all, which is a good thing to avoid religious conflict in the future.”
The election opens up new opportunities for Christian leaders. According to Aung, many high-level officials, including the vice president, would not have had the opportunity to rise in the ranks before, given their Christian faith. Aung feels that this government genuinely pays respect to important religious holidays. In the past, these were treated merely as holidays. Under this administration, Christians have been able to take leading roles in organizing Christmas events in their cities. People are not scared of the government officials anymore.
The government’s management of information and newspeak is very effective. They were able to avoid potential religious conflict caused by some events during the pandemic. Their work to provide a free flow of information has had a significant impact on the areas where religious conflicts often take place, such as Mandalay.
Mandalay is the second-largest city in the country, a city where Buddhist culture is prominent and very influential to the nation. A tension moves throughout the city, which is the center of both religious conflict and interfaith collaboration. Many are working hard to prevent religious conflict. Yet, others still believe that Christianity is a foreign religion despite the presence of Burmese Christians living among them. There, Buddhist extremists dwell alongside Buddhist pacifists and activists–those who focus on the meditation of Buddha’s law and promoting harmonious living among different religions.
Looking ahead, Aung is hopeful for the new changes that are to come, but there will be challenges ahead in the religious freedom arena.
This is a three-part series. Read part two here.