Majority of Christians in Myanmar Live in Conflict Zones after the Coup | Persecution

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Majority of Christians in Myanmar Live in Conflict Zones after the Coup

By ICC’s Myanmar Correspondent
Graph after Myanmar coup

09/03/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – Six months after ousting Myanmar’s democratically elected civilian government, on August 1, the Burmese Army (Tatmadaw) has changed its name into the “Caretaker Government.”

In his speech, General Min Aung Hlaing openly expressed that “Our country is a Buddhist majority believers’ country. In the last five years, Buddhists have encountered many disappointing things. After we take over the responsibilities in accordance with the provisions in the constitution, I will prioritize keeping the tradition of faith.”

Even though religion is often used for political gains, in Myanmar’s political history, no politician has used this card so bluntly like him. He seeks to sow division among the people as he attempts to rule.

This particular speech was noteworthy as General Min Aung Hlaing delivered it as the first speech of the Caretaker Government and laid out their manifesto and the junta’s roadmap to formalize their coup into a civilian regime. Many critics assess that the Tatmadaw is going to use this religious card systematically in their propaganda. While many would assume that the junta’s target would only be Muslims, as they have had a track record of persecuting the Rohingyas, Muslims have never been the main threat to them during the power transitions in the country.

In Myanmar, there is a sarcastic expression called “C-virus” – If you were infected by C-virus, you would not be promoted in government. You would be treated differently in immigration office and generally labelled as second-class citizen. The “C” in this C-virus, sure enough, stands for Christian.

Given the history of Myanmar, insurgent groups and ethnic militia groups have long existed. Yet, the majority of Burmese people are not familiar with their cause and plight until the seize of power by the Tatmadaw. Ironically, the predominantly Christian ethnic militias have been the ones leading this Spring Revolution resistant force among these groups.

In fact, the National Union Government (NUG), a parallel government born after the coup and supported by the majority, is nested in these armed groups’ territories. All the resistance forces, both in rural and urban areas, rely heavily on them for their decades of experience fighting the Tatmadaw.

This graph, developed by KPICT (Kachin Political Interim Coordination Team), shows that after the February coup, the five areas where armed conflict broke out most frequently were Kachin, Shan, Sagaing, Chin, and Karen, with Karenni closely behind. Among these states and places, Shan and Sagaing are the only two places where there is no Christian majority, although in Shan State there are many Kachin Independence Army-controlled areas inhabited by mostly Christian ethnic Kachin and suffer constant attacks. In Kachin State, 85 percent of the population is Christian, whereas 90 percent of the population is Christian in both Karenni and Chin states. In Karen state, more than half of the population is Christian.

To sum up, most Christians in Myanmar are currently living in active conflict zones. There is not a day goes by without Tatmataw raiding into a village and stealing the villagers’ valuable belonging. They have been facing terrible hardship: running for their lives, losing their homes, being arrested, tortured, injured, or even killed, while facing the most brutal 3rd wave of COVID-19 all at that same time, with nothing to protect themselves. Unlike many other people inflicted with the virus in this country, people with C-virus hold on to this “virus” and await to be able to prove that their faith is not a virus. Instead, it sustains them when the days are dark and the future seems bleak.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: press@persecution.org.

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