Displaying items by tag: Myanmar

Friday, 10 September 2021 04:56

Myanmar: New sanctions

Since the February 1st military takeover, at least 1,045 protesters have been killed by security forces, and over 6,000 are currently in detention. The UK’s foreign ministry said it would impose an asset freeze on conglomerate Htoo Group of Companies and its founder Tay Za, who is involved in arms deals on behalf of the military coup leaders. The military junta has shown no signs of halting its brutal attack on the people of Myanmar and the UK with its partners will continue to restrict the junta’s access to finance and confine the supply of arms used to kill innocents, including children. The US has sanctioned Myanmar’s Minister of Information Chit Naing, Minister for Investment Aung Naing Oo, Labour and Immigration minister Myint Kyaing, and Thet Thet Khine, the minister for social welfare, relief and resettlement, as well as three members of the powerful State Administrative Council and their families – who are linked to the military coup.

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General Min Aung Hlaing, who led Myanmar’s coup, declared himself prime minister and said military rule and a state of emergency will continue until 2023; then the country will hold elections. This contradicts his earlier claims that political freedoms would soon be restored. People protested in Mandalay and the police shot them with no warning. Since February, security forces have killed 1,000 people and arrested 5,000. Covid-19 is rampant. Cemeteries are full and the government is not helping by blocking oxygen shipments. On 8 August fresh protests broke out against military rule, to coincide with the anniversary of 1988 pro-democracy protests. Civilians, including healthcare workers, quit working to protest the military’s overthrow of an elected government. Christians have been giving out food and water to the needy - widows who cannot get out for any kind of food. They mention they’re doing this because they’re followers of Christ. Unfortunately, that is interpreted as insurrection.

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Recently three Baptist pastors from Kachin state were detained and charged with organising prayers for peace. The pastors are now facing three years in jail because of a penal code which criminalises causing fear, spreading false news, and agitating for criminal offenses against government employees. They were praying that the fighting between the Burmese military and the pro-democracy forces in Kachin state, which has intensified recently, would cease. It is reported that the pastors, who are elderly and in poor health, were sent to a prison on 29 June to await their court hearing on 12 July. Their imprisonment was met with an outcry from Christians in the country. Many are using social media to publish prayers and pleas for their release. Other church attacks and arrests have occurred elsewhere throughout the country.

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What began as a coup by the Myanmar military has ‘rapidly morphed’ into an all-out attack against the civilian population that has become increasingly widespread and systematic, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned on 6 July, 2021.

Speaking at the 47th session of the Human Rights Council, Michelle Bachelet reiterated that the situation in the country has evolved from a political crisis in early February to a “multi-dimensional human rights catastrophe”, repeating a formulation she first used a month ago.

Since the coup, nearly 900 people have been killed while around 200,000 people have been forced to flee their homes because of violent military raids on neighbourhoods and villages. “Suffering and violence throughout the country are devastating prospects for sustainable development and raise the possibility of State failure or a broader civil war”, she cautioned.

Ms. Bachelet explained that the catastrophic developments since February have had a severe and wide-ranging impact on human rights, peace and security, and sustainable development. “They are generating clear potential for massive insecurity, with fallout for the wider region”. The UN High Commissioner urged the international community to stand united in pressuring the military to halt its continuing attacks on the people of Myanmar and return the country to democracy, reflecting the ‘clear will of the people’.

She said the UN system must not fail the country a second time”, she added, citing the 2019 review of UN action in the country, by Gert Rosenthal.  She also advised swift action to restore a working democracy before the human rights situation in the country deteriorates further. “This should be reinforced by Security Council action. I urge all States to act immediately to give effect to the General Assembly's call to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar”, Ms. Bachelet said.

UN Agencies estimate that over 6 million people are severely in need of food aid and forecast that nearly half the population could fall into poverty by early 2022.  “A void has been opened for the most harmful – and criminal – forms of illicit economy to flourish”, she underscored.

She denounced indiscriminate airstrikes, shelling, civilian killings and mass displacement. Civil voices are also being silenced: over 90 journalists have been arrested and eight major media outlets shuttered. “We have also received multiple reports of enforced disappearances; brutal torture and deaths in custody; and the arrest of relatives or children in lieu of the person being sought”, she said.

She added that people across the country continue peaceful protests despite the massive use of lethal force, including heavy weaponry, and a ‘civil disobedience movement has brought many military-controlled government structures to a standstill’.

Some people, in many parts of Myanmar, have taken up arms and formed self-protection groups. These newly formed groups have launched attacks in several locations, to which the security forces have responded with disproportionate force, she noted.

“I am concerned that this escalation in violence could have horrific consequences for civilians. All armed actors must respect and protect human rights and ensure that civilians and civilian structures such as health centres and schools are protected”.

Sources / More: The United Nations, Pray for Myanmar

Pray:

Pray that every bit of suffering, injustice, and heartache in Myanmar will be redeemed by the Lord for good.
Pray
that the people of Myanmar would hunger for the hope of the Gospel and find that all their longings are satisfied in Jesus (Colossians 1:27)

Friday, 18 June 2021 05:26

Myanmar – ‘Rapidly deteriorating’

As of the 8th June, the United Nations said an estimated 100,000 people had been displaced in Myanmar's Kayah State by recent violence, including "indiscriminate attacks by security forces" against civilian areas. "The United Nations in Myanmar is concerned about the rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation," the United Nations in Myanmar said in a statement.

The G7 nations issued a communique that "condemn[s] in the strongest terms the military coup in Myanmar, and the violence committed by Myanmar's security forces." It goes on to say that the G-7 nations "pledge our support to those advocating peacefully for a stable and inclusive democracy." It also says the G-7 governments will pursue "additional measures should they prove necessary," hinting at the possibility of additional sanctions.

However, the reality of life in Myanmar remains awful for many.  Thousands are in flight across Myanmar because of armed strikes and indiscriminate attacks and arrests conducted by the Tatmadaw, the armed forces of Myanmar, deepening a humanitarian crisis emerging in Kayah and Chin states. According to a community leader from Loikaw, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from the Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw “see the civilians as their enemies.”

“No one is safe from their attacks. Anyone they are suspicious of, anyone they think are against them, they will arrest, they will torture and some of them are even shot to death. It happens here every day, so people are hiding.” He said so far 50 have been killed in Kayah State, and many have been wounded. “Even peaceful protesters have been shot.”

The source in Loikaw said the Tatmadaw have attacked churches and homes with drone and air strikes, mortar and small arms fire, killing noncombatants and driving thousands into the nearby forests and mountains. “The church is under attack” in Kayah State, he said, both the “People of God” and church buildings.

Four churches of the Diocese of Loikaw have come under heavy weapons fire since mid-May. Now most church functions throughout the state have been shut down completely and many parishes are “totally abandoned.”

The Rev'd Susan McIvor has had links with the Church in Upper Myanmar since 1998 and visited many times. She has written this prayer for the current situation:

Loving God,

We pray for the people of Myanmar in their struggle for justice, peace and freedom.

We stand in solidarity with all who are calling for the restoration of democracy and an end to the violence perpetrated by the Myanmar military against protestors and civilians.

We hold in our hearts those towns, cities and communities where the loss of life is great, and where it is no longer safe for people to go about their ordinary tasks.   We pray for those who have fled into the forests or neighbouring countries fearing for their lives or their loved ones.

We pray in solidarity with the minority Christian population in Myanmar.  We pray for all churches as they support their communities.

We pray for the Methodist Church in Upper Myanmar, its colleges, healthcare and social development projects, grieving alongside our brothers and sisters as they count the loss of loved ones.  We pray that, in the face of atrocity, people will be strengthened by their faith and the knowledge of Your goodness and love. 

We pray for ourselves. 

When we feel powerless to change things show us how through our actions and our prayers Your love is made known.   

When we reach out to support people in Myanmar, give us words of wisdom, compassion and hope.

And when our hearts are breaking with despair for those we know in Myanmar, fill us with Your peace. 

AMEN

More / Sources: The United Nations, Americamagazine.org, Methodists UK

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Thursday, 03 June 2021 20:36

Myanmar: children recruited to fight military

Since the military junta seized power in Myanmar in February's coup, violent resistance against the regime has been intensifying. Young people across the country have begun taking up arms to join the fight against their own army. Some of them have been getting military training from the separatist Karen National Defence Organisation, which operates near the Thai border. Myanmar’s military launched air strikes on a village and outpost near the Thai border in April. Thailand will provide humanitarian aid but stressed it is not taking a side in the conflict. The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) are one of the biggest adversaries of Myanmar's military. Myanmar soldiers have murdered, burnt villages, forced labour, tortured and systematically raped women and girls. They have also suffered many losses to KNU guerrillas. Other guerrilla forces, in the north and the west, are also supportive of the anti-junta coalition. See also

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Thursday, 13 May 2021 16:09

Myanmar – ‘Future lies in darkness’

The situation in Myanmar continues to deteriorate.  The devastation is highlighted by Khaing Sandi Win Min, First Secretary at Myanmar's Permanent Mission in Geneva and a member of the Civil disobedience movement opposed to the Military Junta. See here.  She writes that since the military coup, Myanmar’s security forces have viciously attacked those protesting peacefully against the military’s seizure of power on February 1. Even away from the streets, the people of Myanmar have been forced to endure brutal human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed by the state’s security forces. Each day and night has become a nightmare for the people. The future of Myanmar lies in darkness.

The systematic and targeted acts of the military and security forces have led to the deaths of more than 750 people, including dozens of children. The junta has also arbitrarily arrested, charged, and sentenced more than 3,400 people. While in custody, many have been subject to various forms of torture, and, in the case of women and girls, sexual harassment and assault. The death toll is increasing daily. The security forces are also targeting the family members as hostages, in order to track down those wanted for participation in anti-coup protests.

Under Myanmar’s junta, fundamental freedoms, including the right to life, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, the right to privacy, and private property rights, have been all but swept away.

All of Myanmar’s people – whether protestors, social influencers, those joining the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), or those simply trying to keep their heads down – are living with fear every second, every minute, and every hour.  With the economy in a state of collapse, The U.N. World Food Program has estimated that in the coming six months, hunger will hit 3.4 million people in Myanmar, especially in urban areas.

Christians in Myanmar continue to asking fellow believers to join in prayer for their nation following the military takeover in February.  It is particularly difficult to live as a Christian in Myanmar at present.  Churches have been raided in the wake of the coup, which has been followed by a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy supporters and protesters. 

PENTECOST EDITION 2021 03bMany Christians have also lost their livelihoods as well as seeing their Churches raided on a regular basis.

Pastors have been doubly hard hit by the pandemic because Covid-19 has prevented Christians from going to church, meaning the pastors are unable to collect the tithes that pay their livelihoods and building rent. Christians in Myanmar have told Open Doors of their fears of night raids on their homes by security forces. Another described "living in fear" on a daily basis.

The cost of food and basic necessities has doubled in the crisis, with many Christian families going without enough food to eat and being unable to go to work for fear of their safety. See here

As we stand with our Brothers and Sisters, we look to these prayer points which have been shared with us:

1. Civil war is breaking out in various places and civilians and ethnic armed groups are fighting back. They are filled with anger from decades of injustice.

Please pray for Godly ways to challenge this military dictatorship.

2. Food prices have gone up 30% and banks are struggling with cash. People have to stand in line half the day just to get access to Limited amounts of cash. The poor and internal refugees are heavily hit.

Please pray for the church to be active in sharing God's goodness and practical blessing.

3. Youth are without a future. Schools and universities have been shut for over a year. Many are distraught. drugs, human trafficking and joblessness are causing a heavy toll on this generation.

Please pray for healthy and inspiring opportunities for the new generation. That they may encounter God's purposes for their lives and a vision in this crisis.

4. The harvest fields are ripe like never before. Many are hungry for Truth, Justice and answers that they are unable to find in Buddhism and Hinduism and Islam.

Please pray for the church to be active, engaged and inspired to be salt and light and transform this nation.

5. We haven't heard from the elected govt for over 100 days.

Please pray that they may encounter God, have a vision of Righteousness for Myanmar and that they may lead with Godly principles of govt.

6. There is fear in the general public. Many are arrested at night and snatched from their homes. The army is using heavy weapons to target civilians.  If they lose a battle with ethnic armed groups, they retaliate by shooting at villages from the air. Many are hiding in jungles as a result.

Please pray for protection and failure of weapons and plans that aim to cause havoc amongst the innocent.

Thursday, 22 April 2021 21:58

Myanmar: praying in the streets

Christians in Myanmar are praying for their country, they are in the streets, on their knees with their head bowed or laying down stretched out with arms raised. Whole neighbourhoods are involved in visible prayer. Christians in Myanmar have been persecuted for probably a hundred years in this Buddhist country; they make up about 6% of the population. The military has been continually attacking them, and they have suffered terribly. When there was a democratically elected government the Christians were doing better. But with the recent military coup, under Chinese pressure, the whole population, including Buddhists have had enough of the military and they want democracy. The Christians are lying down in the streets: not a political protest, they’re crying out to God for peace and healing. Please join those praying for an end to this deteriorating situation and relieve the population from fear of civil war.

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Thursday, 08 April 2021 21:05

Myanmar: international action

While a Russian minister visited Myanmar for Armed Forces Day, security forces killed 114 peaceful protesters. His visit left observers wondering what Russia wanted to gain by strongly supporting the junta amid the bloodshed. But the timing was such that Russia, which never admits to anything, let alone apologise, felt the need to distance itself from Myanmar and sought to soften the damage to its image amid outrage over the deadly violence. Mr Putin’s spokesman said, ‘We are really worried by the growing number of civilian casualties. It is a source of deep concern. We are following Myanmar’s unfolding situation closely.’ The violence also challenges the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which must decide whether to stick to its principle of non-interference in members' internal affairs or not. China, which is the only nation against imposing sanctions on Myanmar, is influencing the situation for its own commercial and political advantage.

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Thursday, 01 April 2021 21:32

Myanmar: murder and airstrikes

On 27 March security forces killed over fifty protesters who defied a warning that they could be shot ‘in the head and back’ if they came out while the country's generals celebrated Armed Forces Day. ‘Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,’ said Dr Sasa, a spokesman for the anti-junta group of deposed lawmakers. Local media reported that around 3,000 people from Karen state have left the country and crossed the border into Thailand to escape the violence. Airstrikes that sent villagers fleeing into the jungle show the Myanmar situation is ‘much worse’, a humanitarian worker said. At least 114 people were killed by security forces on 29 March, including a five-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl. Despite the bloodshed, protesters returned to the streets. Citizens are living amid increasing violence. People are being beaten and shot; now they face multiple airstrikes. Myanmar has not had airstrikes there for over twenty years.

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