Burma nears end of difficult month

By January 28, 2015

Burma (MNN) — It’s been a tough month for Burma.

The graphic slaughter of two Baptist teachers by army soldiers is gaining global attention.

Burma’s parliament is still considering two bills that would violate religious freedoms, despite U.S. condemnation of both items.

And, a high-ranking Buddhist monk won’t take back the degrading insults he hurled at a  U.N. Special Rapporteur.

“This news comes at a time when the State Department will be making critical choices about what kind of economic and diplomatic relationship we have with Burma,” says Steve Gumaer of Partners Relief and Development.

“I’m hoping this will be leveraged to bring more justice to this country.”

Why is the U.S. involved?

Tom Malinowski (Photo cred: State.gov)

Tom Malinowski
(Photo credit State.gov)

The U.S. State Department has sent officials to Burma on three separate occasions this month. First, a delegation including top human rights official, Tom Malinowski, surveyed Burma’s progress on human rights issues and democratic reforms.

Last week, a Population, Refugees, and Migration official met with state and local officials to discuss the situation in Rakhine state. And, Assistant Secretary for Arms Control Frank Rose addressed a variety of arms control subjects with government authorities yesterday.

While clearly aware of Burma’s human rights violations, observes Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) blogger Joshua Kurlantzick, U.S. officials are reluctant to hold the nation’s leaders accountable.

However, the U.S. was among the first to urge Burma’s government to investigate last week’s grisly crime, which reportedly took place at the hands of government forces.

Murder updates

On Monday, approximately 2,000 people gathered at a prayer ceremony held near the village where 20-year-olds Maram Lu Ra and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin were killed last week.


Burma Army

According to The Irrawaddy, two Burma Army officers also attended the ceremony.

“They were sitting with us for the whole time yesterday,” a Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) leader told The Irrawaddy. Lu Ra and Nan Tsin were sent to the remote village as missionaries by the KBC.

“They told us they were sad about the deaths of the victims and showed support to the families. They told the families that they wanted to help and offered money, but the families refused to take it.”

An autopsy report hasn’t been made public yet.

Why it matters

54-year-old N’Dau Gru, of Nam Gau village in Kachin State, was tortured and beaten by Burma Army soldiers. (Image, caption courtesy Free Burma Rangers)

54-year-old N’Dau Gru, of Nam Gau village in Kachin State, was tortured and beaten by Burma Army soldiers. (Image, caption courtesy Free Burma Rangers)

When it comes to serious issues in a developing nation half-way around the world, sometimes it’s easy to shrug your shoulders and look the other way.

But, Gumaer notes, that’s not what Jesus would do.

“These people–all 60 million of them–bear the image of God. They are people of God’s pursuit and concern, and therefore they should be ours, too,” he states.

“I’m advocating more than charity, but really a posture of justice when it comes to the ways that people suffer. And, right now, people are suffering in Burma.”

Here’s how you can make a difference:

  • Pray

Ask the Lord to keep comforting the families of Lu Ra and Nan Tsin. Pray for justice for ethnic people living in fear throughout Burma. Pray that God’s Word would reach those who’ve never heard about Jesus.

  • Speak up

If you’re reading this in the U.S., click here to find your Congressman’s e-mail address. Then, send him/her this story.

“Click that link and forward this news to your Congressman, expressing your concern, because then we can be part of the change toward justice,” says Gumaer.

  • Help out

Through holistic action, Partners demonstrates God’s love to children and communities made vulnerable by Burma’s conflict and oppression.

Check out their projects here.

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