Myanmar’s Christians marginalized; Voice of the Martyrs’ responds.

By June 20, 2006

Myanmar (MNN)–Myanmar refugees rallied Monday in the Bangladesh capital, marking the 61st birthday of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Kyi, a democratically-elected leader, has been under house arrest for more than a decade. While supporters called for her release, the junta, extended Kyi’s house arrest for another year.

It’s just another example of the government’s continued oppression of religious, ethnic and political minorities. Many Christians have fled their homes for fear of persecution.

The Buddhist country appears at #18 on this years’ Open Doors’ World Watch list. The list ranks the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted the most.

Statistics show that between 5 percent and 10 percent of Myanmar’s 40 million people are Christian, but the government generally infiltrates or monitors the meetings and activities of all religious minorities. It also bans all Christian public ceremonies. Strict state guidelines exist to impose restrictions on freedom of expression and association, and non-Buddhists experience discrimination in the workplace.

Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton says the situation looks grim for the existing church. “We come alongside the local believers and hear their stories, and talk to them–basically ask them ‘how can we help you, what do you need?’ there are training seminars that are being held to equip pastors, to equip Christian leaders and get them ready to face the persecution that’s there.”

Specifically, support from the international body of Christ can go a long way to encouraging those in ministry. “I think we can pray, especially for, the leaders within the church as they are dealing with these challenges, dealing with persecution, dealing with wisdom. We need to pray for that country, we need to pray that there will be more freedom of religion and pray that the Christians there will be more faithful, no matter what the level of freedom is.”

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