Group claims Wa army ar­rests 92 Chris­tians

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page -

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

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