A church in Kayan Thar Yar village in Myanmar was attacked by the country’s army in May, while approximately 300 people were sheltering inside. One of a series of ongoing attacks since the coup began in February, the army collapsed the roof, killing four people and injuring several others.
This is just one of several attacks as conflict between the military and the People’s Defence Force continues.
A Baptist church in Yangon was also targeted, with the military destroying the building and allegedly beating three men, including the pastor. A
local partner of Open Doors spoke of the attack. “The pastor’s son was allegedly accused of stealing a gun from the military. This angered the soldiers and they chased after him, arrested him and then destroyed the church property,” they said.
Open Doors and 25 other organisations belonging to the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) have released a statement expressing their concern about the notable increase in religious freedom violations since the military coup took place.
“We are troubled that military control has the potential to exacerbate religious persecution and intolerance, as we continue to hear of rising Buddhist nationalism and attacks on houses of worship,” the statement said.
Since the military seized power, alleging that the National League for Democracy’s landslide election victory in November 2020 was fraudulent, thousands of civilians have taken to the streets in protest.
In what has been described as a ruthless clampdown, at least 860 people have been killed and over 4,800 arrested. The RLP calls the coup illegal, saying it “disrespects the expressed will of the peoples of Myanmar.”
"... every day is lived in tremendous fear."
Churches have been raided because of activities the military considers unlawful, including the sheltering of anti-coup activists, and pastors have been forced into hiding having shown opposition to the coup.
Meanwhile, the ongoing restrictions have left ethnic religious minorities even more vulnerable. Thousands have fled their homes.
“For those who are unable to escape, every day is lived in tremendous fear,” the RLP said.
“No fewer than 100,000 people – including from the primarily Christian Kachin and Karenni, many Christians among the Karen, as well as the Shan and others – are residing in camps for internally displaced people.”
Christians in Myanmar are fearful for their safety and the future, but have found prayers of believers around the world an enormous support, making a tangible difference to their lives and reminding them that they are not alone.
“Our life has been full of fear, anxiety and distress since the coup,” Brother Hermon* shared.
“Amid the terrorising coup, we have experienced God’s presence in our personal lives.”
“Me and my family would like to say thank you for your prayer support – now we can see His tender care and mercy.”
* Name has been changed for security reasons.