Karen refugees hunted and slain

By December 15, 2009

Thailand (MNN) — Stopping in Thailand on a recent trip, Vision Beyond Borders visited the hunted Karen people–an ethnic people group ruthlessly hunted by Buddhist and Burmese armies. VBB delivered God's Word to their contacts in closed nations. In the Karen refugee camps, workers heard horrific tales of persecution coupled with a steadfast report of faith. Burmese soldiers recently torched Karen rice fields–their primary source of food.

For 25 years, Burmese refugees have flooded into Thailand. Many refugees are minority Karen people–some of the most persecuted in Burma. Over half of the Karen are reported believers; violent discrimination is supported by the Burmese government.  

"One of the generals said, 'By the year 2010, there will be no Karen people left,'" recounted VBB's Patrick Klein. The general expressed his desire "to wipe them off the face of the earth."

With elections in 2010, VBB reports that attacks on the Karen have increased exponentially.

The Burmese army captures Karen men and boys, forcing them to become slaves and porters. Karen women are raped and then burned to death. Every child in the refugee orphanage has a different tale of violence: bombs, shootings, rape, torture, murder. One girl was gang-raped and then hung upside down.

Prowling the Thai border, Burmese soldiers come into camps at night to stop cars, steal valuables, and rape Karen women. Soldiers make a game of tossing infants into the air and trying to spear the baby on their bayonet before it hits the ground.

Despite traumatic attacks and persecution, the Karen persevere in God. Orphans wake up at 4 a.m. to have devotions for two hours. They also have nightly worship.

Attempts are underway to save these Karen refugees. VBB works with several church partners and orphanage programs in Myanmar. Land farther away from the Burma border has been provided for a refugee camp, and almost all funding has been raised. Construction is ready to begin on a new facility, but Thai government approval is still pending.

Refugees have no identification and therefore can't be helped by the Thai government.

Pray for government officials to approve the safer land for a Karen refugee camp. Pray for the survival of starving Karen, and pray that VBB partners maintain sufficient food supplies.

Pray also for ministry opportunities for Karen believers to share their faith with others. Click here to learn how you can help.

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