Burma Still Violates Religious Freedom under New Govt: CSW
20 November 2011: Testifying before the US Congress on Thursday, Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader of the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said that violation of religious freedom continues in Burma.
Mr. Rogers, who has made several fact-finding trips inside Burma as well as to the eastern, northern and western borders, was speaking before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, where he highlighted the recent attacks on Kachin Christian churches by Burma army soldiers.
He also told the Committee that Burmese authorities in one township in Kachin State had introduced an order requiring Christians to seek permission to pray, fast, read the Bible or hold a Sunday school, 15 days in advance.
“There is some talk of change in Burma. However, as long as the regime holds Buddhist monks and other prisoners of conscience in jail, attacks civilians in the ethnic states, and violates religious freedom, the United States should maintain pressure and re-designate Burma a Country of Particular Concern.”
Petition Submitted to Naypyidaw
Meanwhile, local politicians in Chin State complained about the recent destruction of Christian crosses in the southern Township of Kanpetlet.
An official complaint, signed by 18 State parliamentarians, was reportedly submitted to Naypyidaw earlier this month.
Salai Ceu Bik Thawng, General Secretary of the Chin National Party (CNP), told Chinland Guardian: “After we had submitted a signature petition, organised by our party, of Chin MPs to President Thein Sein earlier this month, another collection of signatures from the Chin public we received have also been sent to Naypyidaw.”
The petition made an inquiry as to who was responsible for the destruction of Christian crosses and appropriate actions should be taken in accordance with the laws, according to Salai Ceu Bik Thawng.
In an interview with the RFA (Radio Free Asia), Pu Zo Zam, CNP Chairman said the letter was signed by over 1,000 Chin Christians from Kanpetlet Township, adding: “Chin Christians have been suffering from some of the worst forms of religious discrimination.”
UK-based Chin Christian pastor Rev. Shwekey Hoipang, originally from southern Chin State, told Chinland Guardian that the Chin locals in Kanpetlet Township and its surrounding villages are seriously concerned with the demolition of the two crosses planted on both sides of the Mung River.
“So far, a total of 1083 Chin Christians including pastors and community leaders signed the complaint letter. One of the pastors from Kanpetlet has been sent to Rangoon to follow up on the case,” added Mr. Hoipang.
On 28 July 2011, 15 local Chin Buddhist youths were ordered by the local authorities to destroy two Christian crosses planted near the newly completed suspension bridge on Mung (Hmolong) River in Kyindwe village, Kanpetlet Township, Chin State.
Van Biak Thang