More Churches Locked Up By Authorities
Three churches based in South Dagon township, Rangoon have been locked up and sealed without any specific reasons since late December 2008 by Township Peace and Development Council Officer and local authorities.
The authorities came mostly in the evening or at night and shut down the churches including Evangelical Baptist Church, Karen Baptist Church and Dagon Joshua Church according to a Chin witness whose name is not revealed for security reasons.
A 25-year-old Dai-Chin said: “I visited this church [Evangelical Baptist Church] two times and met with the pastor’s wife. According to her, the church was closed at 6 pm on 29 December by Township Peace and Development Council officer, accompanied by many local authorities.”
“She said the officer did not give any reason for doing this and that the church members were not allowed to worship anymore. The pastor showed the Legal Registration Certificate for the church issued by Ministry of Home Affair and Religion but in vain.”
Members of the Karen Baptist Church are said to have been banned from worshipping and going to church for about three weeks.
A private English teacher from Southern Chin State, who visited the church and did not happen to meet with the church pastor, said he tried to talk to the neighbours but nobody dared to speak about what had happened to the church.
The Dagon Joshua Church was sealed at night on 22 December 2008 and the church pastor was said to have been summoned and interrogated a few times by the local SPDC’s authorities. Bags of cement, planks of wood and zinc for roofing that belong to the church were reported missing after the closure.
The church pastor was accused of using ‘defrauded money’ for helping victims of Nargis Cyclone, buying a plot of land to build the church, persuading local people to join in worship services on Sundays and intending to celebrate Christmas without permission.
Sources reportedly said that some other churches and private houses where home cell services are conducted were also closed down in parts of Rangoon. These ‘ruthless and uncivilised’ actions are believed to be SPDC’s responses to Christian communities, both local and international, that help victims of Nargis Cyclone by donating foods and other supplies.
Pastors and church members as well as Christians in the country send out a prayer request for an end to this kind of religious repression as Burma’s military regime is planning to hunt down more houses, flats and churches in the former capital to stop Christian gathering and activities.
Van Biak Thang
14 January, 2009