Chin Christian Pastor Ordered to Leave Town in Magway Division
03 September 2011: A Chin pastor, who has been living as a Christian missionary in Kyaukhtu Town, Magway Division for nearly three years, was ordered to discontinue his work and leave the town by the local authorities on 20 August 2011.
The Dai Chin Christian missionary whose name is not revealed, was forced to return to his native place after allegedly being accused of not participating in the so-called ‘voluntary work’ and not contributing financially to the authorities.
In Burma, religious minorities including Christians and Muslims have been forced to ‘donate’ money, food, labour or materials to maintain Buddhist monasteries, and to serve as military porters, according to an annual report 2011 by USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom).
One of the Chin Christian leaders from Mindat Town, Chin State, said the Chin pastor and his family who stayed in their mission quarter were ousted from Kungpho block after the authorities gave them warnings and cut off electricity and water as punishment.
“The local government authorities warned that further action might be taken if he didn’t listen and that an order would be issued to the State School teacher to ban their children from going to school,” added the local who asked not to be named.
Having no other options, the Chin family, who had lived in the town since 2009, was known to have left the town and gone to the nearest town in southern parts of Chin State.
Speaking over the phone last Saturday, the Chin pastor in his mid 30s said: “I am worried and concerned about my church members. I really want to go back as soon as possible. Please pray for me so that the door will be open to continue my work and for the church members to be faithful and strong in this difficult time.”
The junta sent in Buddhist monks to various towns and villages in Chin State, with soldiers to protect them, according to the magazine of Barnabas Fund in January-February 2007.
“Anyone who converts to Buddhism is exempt from forced labour or portering and all other kinds of persecution,” added the magazine.
Religious leaders in Burma are not eligible to vote in the election under Section 392 of the 2008 constitution.
It is estimated that there are over 70 Christian believers in the areas near Kyaukhtu town, the second largest in Saw Township of Magway Division where approximately 98 percent of the total population, 4.4million, is Buddhist.
Reporting by Shwekey Hoipang