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Resistance to the Junta is Not about One Particular Religion or Ethnicity

By ICC’s Myanmar Correspondent

01/31/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – 2021 Christmas Massacre or ongoing killings in Myanmar, can they weaken our faith?

Many Christians in the world were deeply disturbed by the breaking news about the Christmas Eve Massacre that took place in the Hpruso township, Kayah State, where around 35 civilians, including women and children, were murdered by the Burmese Army (Tatmadaw).

Meanwhile, many Christians in Karen, Chin, Kachin and Karenni states had to spend their Christmas in bomb shelters or IDP camps for their safety, yet this was even considered better living arrangement. Others had to hide in the forests without any protection in the bitterly cold weather. It did not help that the Tatmadaw had conducted extensive airstrikes during Christmas season. Though one might consider the attacks as part of the junta’s ongoing efforts to get rid of resistance groups, many local defense groups and civilians would point you to their past experiences of enduring Christmas nightmares.

One of the most recent episodes took place in December 2014 in Kachin State, a predominantly Christian region. The Tatmadaw deliberately ambushed Kachin Independent Army (KIA), the local ethnic armed organization during Christmas, despite the letter previously issued jointly by Myanmar Council of Churches and Catholic Bishop Conference asking the military to avoid airstrikes during the festive season. The Tatmadaw ignored the request and only deescalated the attack after Christmas.

The same nightmare was being experienced once more by Christians in Myanmar last year. One of the members of Upper Burma Methodist Church from Chin State shared in tears with ICC that during Christmas worship service, her brother and nephew had been arrested on Christmas eve in Chin State. Just before she joined online Christmas service on Christmas, her nephew had been reported dead. She earnestly asks for prayers for her Christian-majority Chinland.

The Tatmadaw openly and frequently brands itself as the protector of Buddhist religion in Myanmar and claims that Buddhism is able to last this long in the country only because of them. The intensified fighting and attacks in Chin State are evident that the Tatmadaw could be attempting to commit genocide, if it was not for the robust resistance forces that prevented them from doing so.

One of the longest and strongest armed groups, KNLA (Karen National Liberation Army) officer also told ICC, “The Tatmadaw has been acting this way since many decades ago – they attack us in very coward ways. But they will never win, for we stand firm in the truth.”

One of the IDPs in Karen State posted on his Facebook during Christmas, saying, “Airplanes, bombing, and gun noises during daytime and choirs singing in low voice at nighttime.” Those Christians in relatively calm cities or townships, on the other hand, remembered their brothers and sisters in conflict areas. Many churches canceled their Christmas services and sent funds to their brothers and sisters in war-torn regions.

One can say that 2021 Christmas in Myanmar was turmoil outside, yet the warmth of Christmas was still very much alive like never before. People’s faith continues to sustain them in a hopeless situation and as the 2021 February coup enters one year anniversary.

Christians in Myanmar have been killed and often targeted on a daily basis like many other innocent civilians. However, the resistance to the coup in Myanmar is not about one particular religion or ethnic group. It is the whole nation saying to the bully, “Enough is enough.” Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists alike, unite in the fight against the evil regime that seeks to return the Southeast Asian country to authoritarian rule.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected]