Burma Army Soldiers Ransacked Kachin Church
28 March 2012: Burma Army soldiers plundered Sin Lum Pang Mu Baptist Church in Pang Mu village in Bhamo District of Kachin State, according to a report released on Monday by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
The report said soldiers from the 33rd battalion of the Burma Army’s 88th Infantry Division burned bibles, destroyed church property and stole a video player, loudspeakers and villagers’ belongings.
Interviewing Rev. Jangmaw Gam Maw, pastor of Pang Mu Church, CSW said the soldiers also took money from the church donation boxes. Burma Army soldiers claimed the property belonged to a Kachin Independence Army outpost.
Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said, “These incidents illustrate that there is still a very long way to go in Burma’s reform process, and for that reason, the international community should be cautious about lifting too many sanctions too quickly. We have seen very welcome progress in Burma at some levels in recent months, but the Burma Army continues to perpetrate grave violations of human rights in the ethnic areas, which include religious discrimination and persecution of minorities.”
Earlier this month, Burma Army soldiers disrupted a Christian conference and threatened an Chin MP at gunpoint at Sabawngte village in Chin State, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).
“Religious freedom is a fundamental value in any democratic society, and so if the Burmese government is serious about reform, it must protect religious freedom… We call upon President Thein Sein and all reform-minded officials in the Burmese government to take action to end the military’s abuses, and to protect human rights, including religious freedom, for all,” added Benedict Rogers, who have travelled inside Burma and around the Indian-Thai-Chinese-Burma borders several times.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.
Bhamo District is a district of the Kachin State in northern Burma covering an area of 10,742.9 sq.km with four townships: Bhamo Township, Shwegu Township, Momauk Township, and Mansi Township.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang