As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced concerns over the treatment of persecuted Muslims in Myanmar, a spokesperson from Open Doors Canada says we must also remember persecuted Christians who are the Karen people of Burma living in the Kyin state of Myanmar.
The U.N.’s migration agency says, “about 421,000 people have fled from Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh in less than a month amid a security crackdown allegedly targeting the Rohingya Muslim minority.”
Myanmar’s de facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner – Aung San Suu Kyi has remained silent in spite of international pressure on her to speak out. Prime Minister Trudeau has even gone so far as to call the honorary Canadian citizen personally.
A statement from the PMO said the Prime Minister called to express “deep concerns” to Ms. Suu Kyi, and stressed the need to “defend and protect the rights of all minorities.”
Rohingya Muslims are fleeing because of violence by government troops and extremist Buddhist groups. Aung San Suu Kyi is under fire for not doing enough to protect them.
What is covered the most in the news recently is the inhuman treatment of the Rohingya; but, Monica Ratra a spokesperson with Open Doors Canada says, “Christians are also undergoing horrific persecution in Burma.The rhetoric has recently been focused around Muslims not being a part of, or citizens of, Myanmar. They are treated as outsiders. They are not even counted in the census when it takes place.”
Ratra says the treatment of the Rohingya is unacceptable, but also wants the message of the persecuted Christians in Myanmar to not be forgotten, “There are many Christians Rohingya, who converted from Muslim belief; they face even more persecution. They also face persecution from Muslim Rohingya, as well as the radical Buddhist extremist group called, Ma Ba Tha – the rising military regime in Myanmar. The Ma Ba Tha was reprimanded in May, 2016 by the Burmese government, but they continue working, now under a different extremist group name that’s not yet known,” adds Ratra.
Ms. Suu Kyi has cancelled her appearance at this month’s UN General Assembly meetings, instead she will, “address domestic security issues,” the Myanmar’s government, says.
Ratra says, “The world media tends to overlook the plight of persecuted Christians, and recently has focused in on Rohingya Muslims, but we must also remember our Christian brothers and sisters are being killed, beaten, and even forced to flee to refugee camps.”
Access to this region is very limited and news is often not reported, added Ratra.
Some 140,000 refugees from Burma’s nine main minority groups have been living in nine isolated and closed camps on the Thai/Burmese border for many years.
~With files from Susan Ponting