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'Intensify your prayers': Charity raises concern for Christians amid Myanmar unrest

by Heather Preston

A charity has raised concerns over the wellbeing of Christians in Myanmar, after the county's former leader was sentenced to four years in prison.

Aung San Suu Kyi and former president Win Myint have been convicted of incitement for breaking coronavirus restrictions under a natural disasters law.

Suu Kyi faces 11 charges in total, all of which she denies.

Both have been sentenced to four years imprisonment.

The pair were put on trial following the country's military coup in February following a landslide election victory in 2020.

Persecution charity OpenDoors says the escalating unrest between government and armed resistance forces is endangering the lives of Christians.

Director of Advocacy, Dr David Landrum tells Premier: "The unrest now seems to be concentrating in a battle between government forces and armed resistance forces in which Christian communities are caught in the middle and fleeing to take cover in the jungle.

"Conditions were already terrible for Christian communities before the coup but with all the subsequent military activity, they've got even worse."

Myanmar is already number 18 on the Open Doors World Watch list of countries where Christians suffer the most intense persecution. As tensions between opposing forces continue to increase Landrum is concerned the country will rise higher up the list. 

"Wherever the military go (and the military are moving across the country, to quash the resistance) they kill livestock, and they occupy and burn churches as well.

"A few days ago, we received reports of 49 buildings, including a church being set ablaze in Western Chin, in the same town in which the pastor of the Baptist Church was killed last month. So things are deteriorating, and I think the imprisonment of Suu Kyi is symbolic of that deterioration.

In November, Premier reported another incident in which a Bishop's house and church-run clinic were raided by over 200 soldiers and police in Kayah state. Junta troops surrounded the Christ King Cathedral and medical records were seized while 18 healthcare workers were arrested.

NGO's have also been prevented from providing fuel, food and medical supplies to the country as military troops have closed its borders. 

OpenDoors is calling on the international community to put sanctions in place and affirm that the military has no democratic basis to rule the country.

Landrum has asked Christians to 'intensify their prayers' for the people of Myanmar: 

"The church has been praying for many years for Myanmar, and I think we need to intensify that prayer now. We're praying for protection for Christians across the different parts of Myanmar - that the Lord would protect them amidst all this fighting. And also that the Lord would provide for them as well."

Ms Suu Kyi is next due in court on 14th December, when she will face charges of possessing illegal walkie-talkies.

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