While world attention is drawn to Burma’s attacks on the mostly-Muslim Rohingya, the military is advancing into other territories inhabited by minorities, including Christians. Several students at CFI’s Bible Institute are sheltering at the school instead of returning to their villages inside Burma after their school year ended last week.
As CFI’s students were celebrating their graduation last weekend, the Burmese military invaded Karen State, on the border of Thailand.
Over 1,500 villagers fled, fearing their homes will be looted and burned, in the largest evacuation in that area since a ceasefire was signed in 2012.
Further north in Burma, heavy fighting has been going on since late January. A number of civilians have reportedly been killed or injured. Nearly 1,800 evacuated from one area, and more than 700 are hiding in forests, many of whom fled a camp for “internally displaced people” when mortar bombs hit nearby.
Burma is the site of the longest running current civil war in the world. The Karen have suffered decades of human rights abuses. This incursion into Karen jungle territory renews fears that the Burmese military will build military posts and roads for the military to bring in heavy weapons, seize the land and force out the Karen.
During the ceasefire the Karen were rebuilding their communities, culture and care for the waters and forests.
Burma has a history of breaking peace agreements, and a well-equipped military. If the Karen defends against the military’s actions, the government claims the Karen are the aggressors.
In the past, Burma’s military murdered, raped, conscripted child soldiers from the Karen, and destroyed their crops, livestock, villages, schools and medical clinics—leaving landmines to make sure the villagers could not return. While the Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh, the Karen fled into Thailand.
Please pray for peace, and for CFI’s students to be able to return safely to their families.