ICC Feeds 100 IDPs in Christian-majority Chin State
10/12/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – The power-thirsty Burmese Army (Tatmadaw) staged a coup to topple the civilian government led by Aung Sang Suu Kyi in February. Myanmar has since descended into chaos and faces endless fighting throughout the country.
One of the ethnic groups that bears the brunt of the intensified offensive is Chin. The Christian-majority Chin people have long been at odd with the Tatmadaw. Inspired by the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), many Chin men joined local defense forces to fight the Tatmadaw to protect their land.
Traditionally, Chin people are known for their hunting skills. Every Chin household possesses ancient hunting guns, called “Tu-Mee.” Chin people in the town of Mindat, Chin state, came out with their Tu-Mee to fend off the Tatmadaw. Failing to penetrate Mindat even with their heavily armed soldiers and air strikes, the Tatmadaw soldiers were ashamed that they were not able to get past the hunters.
After two weeks of resistance, however, these defense forces left Mindat to protect the civilians, thinking that Tatmadaw would hunt them down instead of targeting the civilians there.
Their assumption was wrong— once the Tatmadaw advanced and occupied the town, they destroyed and burned down many houses, killed anyone whom they found suspicious, forced the villagers to serve their needs, and shut down the water supplies. Almost all the residents fled into the nearby forest, and many surrounding villages have been helping them with food.
Many of these displaced people need medical attention, several require hospitalization, and all are in need of food, water, and shelter. Several churches opened up their compounds to take in these IDPs: they feed them, offer them a place to sleep, albeit without a proper roof. Many churches in Myanmar are extracting their limited financial resources to support these people, but their need is still great. As a result, the Chin Baptist Convention reached out to the international community for support and resources for the IDPs from Mindat.
The churches which requested ICC’s assistance are from an area 40 miles away from Mindat. There are more than 40 churches in Mindat area, organized under eight different sub-areas. ICC is serving an undisclosed area hosting 300 IDPs. The local Baptist church has been converted into a school for the kids and a clinic for the wounded. ICC stepped in to provide food packages to 100 IDPs seeking shelter there to alleviate their burden.
All the ICC project fund went to a major grocery shop in nearby township. The amenities were transported in small segments, since the Tatmadaw does not allow people to carry large amount of food items and confiscate cash from anyone they come across.
The pastor of that Baptist church, Pastor Owen*, shared with ICC how his church began to take in IDPs.
According to him, after many demonstrations in Mindat, seven people were arrested. The whole town requested the Tatmadaw to released them. When the military refused their request, young people started to fight against them. All the officials from judiciary offices also joined CDM.
He continued, “When the Tatmadaw started to attack civilians, all the residents in town had to fled. A friend of mine who is a local pastor walked up to us and asked for help. While we took them in with a heavy heart, we also remembered many others. From there, we called a meeting and decided to host IDPs. We started with what we had in our churches.”
Sometimes, the fights reach where Pastor Owen lives, and they have to run as well. Once the Tatmadaw camped in a church nearby their village and they desecrated the church in every manner. Pastor Owen had to lead a re-consecration service with attendance from the neighboring communities.
Speaking about the assistance provided by ICC, Pastor Owen said, “We could not call out for donation as well as accepting support from the National Unity Government (parallel government) because those might bring danger to our IDPs and our churches. But receiving this kind of support from our fellow Christians from different parts of the world, is very encouraging to us. It weighs more than money. We are really and deeply thankful.”
Please continue to keep these Chin Christians in prayers, especially as the Tatmadaw plans to launch massive ground assaults against Chin National Front, a Chin nationalist political organization, in the coming days.
*Name changed for security reasons.
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