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05/12/2022 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – For years, religious minorities in Myanmar have suffered violence and discrimination at the hands of the state. In 2017, most of the country’s remaining Rohingya population was forced to flee after enduring a genocide at the hands of the Burmese military. Many now live in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh. Those who have remained continue to face violence and discrimination at the hands of the Buddhist nationalist army.  

ICC has previously reported that, while most of the Rohingya population is Muslim, within the Rohingya minority resides another minority–Rohingya Christians. These believers suffer not only violence, imprisonment, and oppression from the Burmese military but also from their neighboring Rohingya Muslims on account of their faith.   

Recently, some police officers who oversee Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh, where many Rohingya, including many Rohingya Christians, live, arranged a meeting with Rohingya Christian leaders.  

Twenty-nine Christians attended the meeting. “The police battalion asked us how we spend our days in the camp and if we have any problems,” Shorif David, pastor of Gate Church, told Asia News. The pastor asked the police for protection and a burial ground for the Christian Rohingya in the camp since Muslim Rohingya do not allow the Christians to use their cemetery. David told the officers, “We want to live in this camp with a brotherly relationship and in peace with the Muslim Rohingya, even though they often deliver hateful sermons against Christians and other religions from the mosque.”  

David is the spiritual leader of about 120 believers originally from Buthidaung town in Rakhine State. The Rohingya Christians in Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee camp, number more than 3,000, but only a third have declared their faith because of many fear threats and retaliation.  

A Christian believer who attended the meeting with police on May 9 said he was happy with the experience, “No police agency had ever contacted us directly. I am happy they came to listen to us.”  

Naimul Hoque, an officer with the 8th Armed Police Battalion, assured them that the police would ensure the safety of the Christians, “If you have any problems, let us know,” he said during the meeting.  

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