Christian Institutions Ordered To Close Down In Rangoon
At least three Bible colleges and two orphanages have been ordered to shut down by the local SPDC authorities in Mingalardone Township, Rangoon, the former capital of Burma, Chinland Guardian has learned.
In a letter issued on 24 February 2009 to orphanages and colleges, Chairman of the local SPDC asked the institutions to stop running if they do not possess the official permission and registration. Sources confirmed that one of the colleges has been ordered to close down even though it has got an official registration since 1970s.
The local SPDC authorities accused that the colleges do not have permission from the government and that the place and building are not meant for religious activities. A Chin pastor and activist, Rev. Shwekey Hoipang said: “As we all have already known, most of the churches, mission organisations, orphanages and para-churches have been closed and sealed recently by the military regime. It is an ongoing crackdown on Christian growth in Burma and is a careful strategy and plan of the regime.”
Sources claimed that the SPDC authorities carry out their repressive crackdown from one township to another, targeting Christians and their activities in Rangoon and that it is likely that this will soon go beyond the former capital city throughout the whole country.
The unnamed founder of one orphanage is said to be downhearted and very much concerned about his orphan children after the local authorities issued an order to send them back to places where they came from.
Since December 2008, more than 100 churches in Rangoon’s South Dagon and Pabedan townships have been shut down, about 50 pastors forced to sign the documents promising to stop holding church services, and 80 per cent of churches in Rangoon affected, according to a report by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
Some local Christians believe that the immediate cause of the oppressive measures is church involvement in relief provision for victims of Cyclone Nargis.
In 2004, Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) published a report ‘Religious Persecution: a Campaign of Ethnocide against Chin Christians in Burma’ which revealed the military regime’s systematic persecutions against Chin Christians as part of a program to Burmanzie the Chin people and various acts of ethnocide against Chin Christians by trying to destroy the Chin religious and cultural identity.
Van Biak Thang
28 February, 2009