Virtual Voices

Myanmar's murders

Newsworthy

Almost two months after the Myanmar government imprisoned and killed pro-democracy protesters, international outrage builds. Today Canada announced that it is imposing "the toughest sanctions in the world" against Myanmar. But Myanmar Deputy Defense Minister Aye Mint is still showing the world a brash front, announcing today that the country "will not accept the interferences that will harm our sovereignty."

Sandra Bunn-Livingstone, executive director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide USA, told WoW that Myanmar's murder of religious dissidents is nothing new. She said the government's motto is "one race, one language, one religion," and when governments sponsor one religion and suppress all others, "they also eventually turn against that one religion."

Myanmar brutally persecutes Christians, who are usually guilty of being a different race and speaking a different language, too. Christian Solidarity Worldwide obtained a leaked government document that outlines "A Program to Destroy the Christian Religion in Burma." The document directs Buddhists to marry Christian women, target Christian teens who wear Western clothing, report and imprison Christian evangelists, and attack Christianity's weakest points.

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These are the government's gentle methods. Christian villagers usually live in pockets of ethnic minorities and often set a bamboo cross on the village's highest hill. The military enslaves the men in these villages, raping the women and children and then selling them to slave traders across the border in China and India. Bunn-Livingstone said, "They'll put a gun to villagers' heads and say, 'I'll blow your brains out unless you convert to Buddhism.'" The military pays and feeds villagers who renounce their faith. Some Christians flee to refugee camps in Thailand, but the military crosses the border and attacks these camps as well.

Bunn-Livingstone said Christians numbered among the 110,000 pro-democracy protesters the military attacked last September. Christian Solidarity Worldwide is working with humanitarian organizations, European governments and the United States to pressure Myanmar's government and to persuade China and India to stop propping up the regime with trade and weapons. "Now's the time," Bunn-Livingstone said. "With the protests, it's so obvious that everyone's suffering."

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