Group claims Wa army arrests 92 Christians
A local church group has claimed that 92 Christian leaders have been arrested by the United Wa State Army in the armed ethnic group’s territory in Shan State and 41 others were press-ganged into the army.
THE United Wa State Army has allegedly arrested 92 Christian leaders and press-ganged 41 others into the armed ethnic group in Shan State, according to the Lahu Baptist Convention in Kyaingtong city.
The religious group said in a statement that the armed ethnic group also destroyed crosses – the main symbol of Christianity – in churches. It added that 52 schools operated by Christian groups have been closed.
Efforts to contact the Wa army for comment were unsuccessful, but last week, the group’s spokesman U Nyi Rang, confirmed that Christian leaders have been arrested for extremist teachings.
La Za Rus, general secretary of the religious group, alleged that 41 male and female Christian bible students were arrested and forced to join the Wa army.
“Please pray to settle the difficulties and problems that Christians are facing in Wa territory,” he said.
In a previous interview with The Myanmar Times, U Nyi Rang accused those who were arrested of causing instability in the region. Reverend Hkalam Samson, chairman of the Kachin Baptist Convention, said he has had no problems doing missionary work in Wa territory.
He alleged that the people who were arrested burned down traditional religious icons worshipped by the Wa people.
“They were propagating the Christianity by belittling traditional religious practices,” he said. “That’s why they were arrested and their churches were closed.”
This problem could turn into a clash between the two religions, so the Wa army needs to resolve it as soon as possible, said Salai Issac Khen, a Christian and former Chin State social minister.
Besides the Wa, 16 other ethnic nationalities live in Wa territory, including the Arkhar, Larhu, Kachin, Shan, Myanmar, Chinese, and Kokant. Under the constitution, the Wa territory in Shan is a self-administered region comprising six townships – Hopan, Mine Maw, Pangwaing, Narhpan, Metman and Panghsang. – Chan Thar