Chin Family Evicted from Village for Conversion to Christianity
27 April 2012: Seven members of a Chin Christian family including an elderly and children have been evicted from Rawnglaung village in Mindat Township, Chin State for their conversion to Christianity around mid of this month.
Rawnglaung Village Tract Chairman U Ha Ling, of the Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP), went to a rented house of the Cho Chin family on 15 April 2012 and ordered them to immediately leave the village.
U Ngai Kee and his family members including three children between 3 and 7 years of age, wife, younger sister and elderly mother have since stayed in a small makeshift tent built outside of the village after the forcible eviction.
U Ha Ling filed a case against the Christian family reportedly to U Hung Ngai, Chief Minister of Chin State on 15 April 2012, according to the victim, who managed to get a copy of the letter.
The 26-year-old Chin father said parts of the letter read Rawnglaung is a Buddhist village and Christians are not allowed to visit or live in.
In the letter, U Ha Ling accused U Ngai Kee of causing division among the villagers because of his Christian faith, demanding Chief Minister to issue an order of expulsion from Rawnglaung to the Chin family.
Since their conversion from a traditional Animisim to Christianity in 2003, U Ngai Kee and his family have faced various forms of discrimination and persecution in the village for their new religious faith.
“Since our conversion, my family and I have suffered from persecution, discrimination and harassment. But we forgive and always pray for them. However, we still want justice, freedom, and the right to believe, worship and live,” said U Ngai Kee, a Baptist member.
U Ngai Kee said his family had worship services and prayer meetings at their house, with a Baptist pastor who visited them at times as they had no pastor or church building in the village.
Local Buddhist villagers shouted abusive remarks and threw stones at the house of U Ngai Kee while conducting worship services and prayer meetings.
It is said that U Ngai Kee’s family have been targeted with a series of discriminatory actions as a Buddhist monk Ashin Pyinnyar Zawta and a local Buddhist missionary U Gei Law, who have influence on the village chairman and other villagers, are worried about the growth of Christianity in the village.
Staying away at the house of a Christian family in a nearby village of Awlaungpang for a while in an attempt to avoid constant harassment, the Ngai Kee’s family were welcome back to Rawnglaung village in 2011 after several negotiations had been made with the village chairman.
“We were actually welcome at that time on the ground that we are native to the village. We have our family registration Form 10 in this village,” explained the Chin Christian.
In January 2012, U Ha Ling accused Rev. Tam Thang, a Baptist pastor from Mindat, and U Mnai Khaing of making a regular visit to U Ngai Kee and his family in the village, sending a letter to U Win Htay, Mindat Township General Administrative Officer, to handle the situation.
Despite conducting an interrogation with Rev. Tam Thang and U Mnai Khaing, U Thang Law, Officer of Township Religious Affairs, together with U Win Htay, have not taken any action against unfair treatment against the Christians up to date.
U Ngai Kee was recently banned from repairing his house by the Mindat township authorities and the village chairman with no obvious reasons on 27 March 2012.
The Office of Mindat Township Religious Affairs is claimed to have issued an order to discontinue re-construction of the house and to drive U Ngai Kee and his family out of the village after a complaint letter was filed to the authority by U Ha Ling, the village Chairman.
U Ngai Kee said he is not leaving his native village as it has been his forefathers’ inhabited land for many generations, adding: “We do not commit any crime. But my family and I have been persecuted because of our faith in Christianity.”
“My mother is very old now and she wants to be buried next to my father’s grave in the village when she dies. These days, she gets worried so much because of the expulsion,” said U Ngai Kee.
A government employee from Mindat Town said: “I have heard from some Rawnglaung villagers that the Buddhist monk and the village chairman do not like to hear Christian songs, prayers and worship services from the Chin Christian family’s house. Especially, they don’t like any Christian visitors coming to the village.”
Located near the border between Matupi and Mindat townships, Rawnglaung village is estimated to have 36 households with a total population of 193 Cho Chins, of which 35 families are Buddhists.
Reporting by Jeremy Hoipang