Persecution in BurmaCHARLES COLSON
Given the recent coverage, people might be surprised to learn that Burma not only has a substantial Christian population, but that these Christians have long been the junta's preferred target.
For many people, the defining image of the Burmese struggle for human rights has been Buddhist monks in red robes staging demonstrations. Reports about Burma focus on the plight and plans of the estimated 400,000 Buddhist monks in the country.
Given the coverage, people might be surprised to learn that Burma not only has a substantial Christian population, but that these Christians have long been the junta's preferred target.
Late last month, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner called on China to use its influence with the Burmese government to promote democratic reform. Aside from the unintentional irony of China promoting democratic reform anywhere, I could only wonder of the French foreign minister, "Where were you when Burma's Christians needed you?"
For instance, the U.K. Telegraph reported about a Burmese government document describing a plan for eradicating Christianity in that country. The document began with the words "there shall be no home where the Christian religion is practiced."
What followed were "point by point instructions on how to drive Christians out of the state." While the junta denied authorship of this specific document, it "made no public attempt to refute or repudiate its contents."
It could hardly do otherwise — its persecution of Burma's Christian minority is well-documented. Christian churches have been torn down and replaced by Buddhist pagodas; and Christians have been forced to financially support Buddhist projects and festivals.
It gets worse: Christian children have been removed forcibly from their homes never to be seen again. And members of largely Christian ethnic groups — the Chin, Lachin, and Karen — have been tortured by the Burmese army. Christian women are gang-raped by soldiers, killed, and their mutilated bodies placed on display as a warning to others.
Not surprisingly, the treatment of Burmese Christians does not figure prominently in recent news reports about the Burmese democracy campaign. Actually, their treatment scarcely registers at all.
I say "not surprisingly" because, sadly, the media has a blind spot when it comes to the persecution of Christians. For instance, you can listen to several months' worth of news about Iraq, and, with a few honorable exceptions, never hear about the plight of Iraqi Christians. There was a similar journalistic silence about the treatment of Sudanese Christians by that country's Islamic-led government — until, that is, many of us staged a noisy campaign.
But this is why it is up to Christians to provide a more accurate picture of human rights around the world. And equipping Christians to complete that picture is one of the goals of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It will be observed Sunday, November 11. The goal of this Day of Prayer is to unite citizen action to intercessory prayer on behalf of our persecuted brethren.
Citizen action requires informed citizens, which is why I am telling you today and tomorrow about Christians who need your help. Because when we are asked, "Where were you when the persecuted Church needed you?" I want you to be able to say, "Right by their side."
Learn what you can do to help persecuted Burmese Christians.
Moe Yu May and Marwaan Macan-Markar, “Burma: Monks Lead Protests, Challenge Junta,” IPS, 25 September 2007.
Bill Rodgers, “World Consensus on Burma Eroding,” Voice of America News, 31 October 2007.
“France Urges China to Use Influence with Burma,” Voice of America News, 31 October 2007.
Karen Percy, “Monks Regroup to Protest in Burma,” Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1 November 2007.
Roberto Rivera, “Mission of Burma,” The Point, 1 November 2006.
Catherine Claire, “Displaced But Not Misplaced,” The Point, 13 March 2007.
Peter Pattisson, “Burma ‘Orders Christians to Be Wiped Out’,” Telegraph (London), 21 January 2007.
BreakPoint Commentary No. 070611, “True Martyrs: Victims of Radical Islam and Political Correctness.”
BreakPoint Commentary No. 040713, “Faithful Unto Death: The Plight of Burmese Christians.”
BreakPoint Commentary No. 070131, “Wiping Out Christians: Brutality in Burma.”
Kristin Wright, “Lonely, Flickering Light,” BreakPoint Online, 24 October 2006.
Charles Colson. "Persecution in Burma." BreakPoint Commentary November 8, 2007.
From BreakPoint ® (11/08/2007), Copyright 2000, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, D.C. 20041-0500. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint ®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries ®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries.
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