News24

Myanmar Christians forced to convert

2012-09-05 21:41

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".

Beaten

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.

Comments
  • jojo.balela.1 - 2012-09-05 23:47

    I had thought that Buddhists were peace loving people! Surely Buddhism doesn't preach what these people are doing. Do they not understand that everyone is entitled to choose his own religion? The world is becoming increasingly intolerant by the day

  • anthony.lianthang - 2012-09-06 03:03

    In religion, if there is force someone to convert to become of any religion, that religion may be seemed so young religion among many religions in the world. In the post modern era, there should not be force in religion. If someone want to convert from his religion to the other, no one should not guard him not convert because he can practice his right as his desire. So everyone can become any religion however no one should force. The leaders of religions have to consider what his religion belief, if you don't want to make your religion ugly, you keep silence in your religion it is the best way to influence any religions! Last word, don't force anyone to convert your religion.

      zaatheist - 2012-09-06 05:06

      Actually the best is to educate people and demonstrate just how puerile, stupid, nonsensical and infantile religious belief is.

      jody.beggs - 2012-09-06 13:54

      That include child indoctrination. Ever seen the "ain't no homo's in heaven" song ,sung by a 5 year old ? The greatest evil set upon the world is convincing people god exists !

      raymon.mcnelly - 2012-09-07 20:13

      Ag nooit! You two a$$hats again ..

  • greg.swart1 - 2012-09-06 06:00

    There can only be signs and wonders break out in this community on the back of persecution...it's just how it works. Pray that their faith would not fail.

      wordis.word.1 - 2012-09-06 07:27

      "There can only be signs and wonders break out in this community on the back of persecution" I'm sorry I didn't quite get that...

      wordis.word.1 - 2012-09-06 15:26

      Why the thumbs down? Are you saying you understand that sentence? If you do please explain it to me.

  • wordis.word.1 - 2012-09-06 07:32

    This is where a flexible belief system comes in real handy. a Mob of delusional people want you to think and dress like they do? Fine, i'll pretend to be a buddhist, and then slooowwwwly back away...

  • janalbert.vandenberg - 2012-09-06 09:07

    I always say the same thing: whenever a person, or small group of people, come to believe that they are somehow better than others, or know better than others, that is where this kind of religious power-corruption begins, and soon it spreads throughout the community like a wild fire. This article is ironic, because Buddhism always touts itself as being immune to such power-corruption. Of course, many a Buddhist will claim now that those that acted this way merely "did not really understand" what Buddhism is *actually* about: and in this way make themselves part of a larger group of religious "liberals" that try to distance themselves from those that they perceive as "conservative" or "corrupt". But what this really shows is that it is religious fervour that drives this kind of "we are better than everyone else" belief system. So next time someone tells me that so many human lives that were lost, were really *not* due to religious fervour I will just keep quiet and smile. Because it is *precisely* religious fervour, that leads to this kind of oppression. It is my hope that the Christian folk will be left alone and given the freedom to practice their religion in peace. I also hope that this experience will show them how dangerous religion can be. And hopefully they will not join the folk that contributed to the making of the film 'Jesus Camp' -- http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/jesus-camp/

  • raymon.mcnelly - 2012-09-07 20:32

    Just typical of all atheists and anti-christs ... When will you learn that PEOPLE commit these things... The only religion that actually teaches violence is Islam. I know of no other religion that does it ... So, get it through your thick skulls ... Budists will never force someone to convert ... if he/she does, then said person is not a Budist but something entirely different ... the same goes for Christians etc... Moslems have a mandate in their holy book to commit violence...

      d3st88 - 2012-09-10 03:05

      Read the bible, my child. The Mein Kampf is a peaceful child's book compared to the bible.

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