Myanmar (MNN) — Buddhist monks and other protestors flooded
the streets of Myanmar's biggest city yesterday in a strong show of dissent
against the ruling generals. At least
30,000 people swarmed through the streets of Burma's main city, the largest
protests since a 1988 democracy uprising led by students was brutally put down
by the army.
Tensions are thick as everyone waits for the government
response this time. Surprisingly, the
response has been muted because of pressure from China. So far, the government has kept minimal
security at the protests. Demonstrations
began August 19 as a movement against
economic hardship after the government raised fuel prices.
But it's about more than the high cost of living. Voice of the
Martyrs' Todd Nettleton says,
"These protests are really a response to the difficulty of life
there and pressure on the government to grant more rights to the people of
Myanmar," which are often denied for Christians.
Myanmar ranks 18th in the Open Door World Watch list, a
semi-annual release ranking countries according to the level of persecution
Christians face for actively pursuing their faith.
In fact, two weeks ago, a coalition between Christian
Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and Burma Campaign UK launched a massive prayer and
fasting effort on behalf of Myanmar's embattled church. Churches in at least 13 countries in four
continents held prayer and fasting vigils
for Burma on September 9.
They also sent a
letter to EU Foreign Ministers urging them to support moves to bring Burma
before the United Nations Security Council. CSW also recommends the creation of an EU
Special Representative on Burma.
Nettleton says, "One of the great challenges in a time
of turmoil like this is just to live in peace and to live in confidence, whatever happens in the country. Obviously, God is still faithful, and God is still
on the throne. We can pray that they'll be encouraged, that they'll be
confident in the Lord, and I think we can pray for peace."
He says the church remains active. Believers are spreading the Gospel, he
explains, "and I think that's part of
why the government is uncomfortable with the growth of the church, because
Christians are reaching out and being effective. We can pray that that will
continue. And we can pray for their protection."