Christians forced to pledge they will pray only at home

pledge

Ethnic-minority Wa and Lahu Christians near Myanmar’s border with China have been detained and ordered by a China-backed militia group to pledge that they would pray only in their homes and not in churches.

Rev. Lazarus, general secretary of the Lahu Baptist Convention in Kyaing Tong, eastern Shan State, said that about 100 Wa Christians were released recently after signing a pledge to pray only privately.

However, he said 92 ethnic-Lahu Christians were still held by the United Wa State Army (UWSA).

Myanmar’s largest non-state army has upped its persecution of Christians, detaining pastors and destroying churches in areas bordering China and Thailand in Shan state, a new report has revealed.

Last month the Asia Times reported that UWSA recently released a six-point statement instructing all of its military officers and administrators to “find out what the [Christian] missionaries are doing and what are their intentions.”

The Chinese language statement vowed to punish any local administration cadres who support missionary activities, bans the construction of new Christian churches, and requires that priests and workers in existing churches must be local, not foreign.

In September, Rev. Soe Naing, a Catholic, said he had heard that the UWSA has called and questioned clergy about whether they are doing development work or persuading people to convert to Christianity.

“If an individual or an organization builds a church in any area, they investigate to see whether it is being built because it is in a Christian community or whether it is being built to proselytise to get people to convert to Christianity,” he said.

The United Wa State Army (UWSA), a 30,000-strong ethnic armed group comprising the military wing of the United Wa State Party (UWSP), has set up a self-proclaimed autonomous area bordering China and Thailand in Shan state.

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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