Hillary Makes History, Myanmar Christians Get Clobbered

Hillary Makes History, Myanmar Christians Get Clobbered


Hillary Clinton is making history this week: she's the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Burma in more than 50 years.

President Obama has sent Clinton to the nation--also known as Myanmar--because he sees "flickers of progress" being made by the military dictators there.

The regime has released some political prisoners, but at least 1,000 still remain behind bars. Nobel Peace Prize winner, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been free from house arrest for more than one year. She says she may run for a seat in Parliament. More progress.

Certainly the Burmese government has made some small, positive political moves, but Clinton needs to press them to do much more. The speaker of the lower house of the Burmese Parliament, Thura Shwe Mann, said his country wants a "regular relationship" with the United States.

Translation: the Burmese government wants to convince the United States and other nations that it has made significant changes--enough to warrant the lifting of economic sanctions against the country. Western nations imposed sanctions on the government because of it's ongoing human rights abuses.

As President Thein Sein wines and dines the U.S. Secretary of State this week, his military continues a new wave of persecution against Myanamar Christians.

Earlier this month both Christian Solidarity Worldwide and The Voice of the Martyrs confirmed Burmese Army attacks in Kachin State.

Here is a portion of the CSW report:

Soldiers from the Burma Army’s 88th Light Infantry Division attacked the Assemblies of God church in Muk Chyik village, Wai Maw Township on 6 November, injuring several people. The congregation was expelled from the church, and soldiers reportedly looted church donation boxes. The house of one church member, Mr Jumphpawk Hawng Lum, was burned down. At least fifty church members are taken to work as forced porters for the Burma Army.

The pastor of the church, the Reverend Yajawng Hkawng, was severely tortured and is now in hospital. One of the church deacons, Hpalawng Lum Hkawng, who is the youth music team leader, was injured in his leg.

Secretary Clinton needs to question the Burmese government about this incident and similar army attacks against ethnic Karen Christians and others.

Before this U.S. administration considers lifting any of the sanctions against Burma, the military regime must not only continue to make progress in the area of political rights, but it should consistently demonstrate a respect for religious freedom.

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