Myanmar Christians forced to convert

2012-09-05 21:41


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangkok - Christian students from Myanmar's Chin ethnic minority have been forced to convert to Buddhism, shave their heads and wear monastic robes, a rights group said on Wednesday.

The Chin, a mainly Christian group in the poor and remote west of the predominantly Buddhist country, face harassment for the link between their faith and British colonial rule, according to the Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO).

"President Thein Sein's government claims that religious freedom is protected by law but in reality Buddhism is treated as the de facto state religion", said Salai Ling, Programme Director of the CHRO.

Rachel Fleming, another member of the group, said Christianity does not fit with an ultra-nationalistic view put forward by successive military regimes that "to be Burmese, you should be Buddhist".


Chin students are also frequently targeted for enrolment in schools run by Myanmar's military which convert them to Buddhism, she said, adding that Christian students are beaten for failing to recite Buddhist scriptures.

Poverty among the Chin, whose main source of income is farming, leaves the group vulnerable to recruitment to these schools as the military offers free food, education and government jobs once they graduate.

Chin state, which borders India, is home to around 500 000 people. Tens of thousands have fled to neighbouring India to escape army abuses under the former junta, according to rights groups.

In its annual report this year Amnesty International said Chin Christians still face persecution, citing the case of a preacher barred from speaking at a church and ordered to leave the area.

Myanmar is home to a patchwork of ethnic groups and civil war has gripped parts of the country since its independence in 1948.

But Myanmar's reformist government has agreed ceasefires with several ethnic rebel groups as part of reforms since coming to power last year.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Amazing solar inventions!

Solar power is lighting up the world, and not just on rooftops anymore.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

There is a tendency to get too caught up in group dynamics and high expectations and ideals, that your own personal needs more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.