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UK 'must hold Myanmar to account over violence towards Christians'

Fri 16 Nov 2018
By Alex Williams

Church leaders from a predominantly Christian people group in Myanmar have raised concerns over violent oppression towards ethnic minorities, during a meeting with a UK minister.

A Baptist minister and a Catholic priest were among a delegation who met with the minister for Asia and the Pacific to highlight the plight of the Kachin, Shan and Taang peoples.

In response, Mark Field said he remained "deeply concerned" for minority groups in Myanmar.

 

One of the delegates, Rev Dr Hkalam Samson (pictured above, right) told Premier: "Freedom of worship, freedom of religion, freedom of movement and freedom of speech; all of these are still lacking."

The president of the Kachin Baptist Convention continued: "I really would like to request that all the listeners [of Premier] pray for us."

In a report published last month, a fact-finding mission established by the United Nations Human Rights Council warned of "massive violations" being committed by the military and security services in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states.

 

The mission concluded arbitrary detention, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, forced displacement and unlawful destruction of property had taken place.

While members of the Shan and Taang are largely Buddhist, the Kachin are predominantly Christian.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide - which has joined the Catholic Church in England and Wales in supporting the delegates' trip to the UK - said the violent oppression of the Kachin is politically, ethnically and religiously motivated.

United Nations Human Rights Council

 

Benedict Rogers (pictured left in the top image) from the religious freedom charity told Premier: "For a long time, the Myanmar army has strongly opposed calls for federalism and autonomy for the different ethnic groups.

"Kachin State is probably the most resource-rich part of the state, so there's a struggle over that as well.

"Our message this week to all the parliamentarians, the minister and all the others we've been meeting has been the need to pay more attention to what's happening and particularly to look at the question of accountability; how the perpetrators of crimes against humanity can be held to account."

Click here to listen to Premier's Alex Williams (pictured above, right) speaking with Rev Dr Hkalam Samson and Benedict Rogers:

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