Burma’s long-running war against the Karen and other minorities has re-ignited over the last year. Yet it’s gotten little attention as the world focused on the military’s atrocities against the Rohingya.
But last month the U.S. Treasury hit four Burmese commanders and two military units with financial sanctions for their part in ethnic cleansing and widespread human rights abuses against many ethnic minorities, including Christians.
“Burmese security forces have engaged in violent campaigns against ethnic minority communities across Burma, including ethnic cleansing, massacres, sexual assault, extrajudicial killings, and other serious human rights abuses. Treasury is sanctioning units and leaders overseeing this horrific behavior as part of a broader U.S. government strategy to hold accountable those responsible for such wide scale human suffering,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
UN officials have also called for Burma’s military to be investigated for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against minorities.
In this midst of this, Christian Freedom International continues to serve Karen Christians in the region and those who fled.
National Review reported on CFI’s work in Burma Backslides Toward Ethnic and Religious Conflict
U.S.-based Christian Freedom International has worked with the Karen for years. CFI trained medics opened rudimentary but vital clinics, subsidized orphanages and churches, and otherwise helped mitigate the impact of the seemingly endless war. At the group’s invitation I first visited the region nearly two decades ago, and saw how the Karen greatly appreciated the efforts of Americans devoted to standing with them in their time of need.
During some of the ugliest years of fighting, the George W. Bush administration allowed thousands of Karen refugees to settle in America. CFI, then headquartered in Sault Ste Marie, Mich., helped a number of these new residents, some of whom had attended CFI-backed schools while refugees, adjust to a very new culture and climate. The group set up tutoring, assisted residents in finding employment, and organized volunteers to help Karen families adapt to America. It even bought a motel and turned the rooms into apartments for Karen families.
CFI is not the only organization to assist the Karen refugees who have settled across the Burmese border with Thailand. But in recent years some international groups have left, believing their job to be done. Refugees at Mae La report that aid has declined. And with many displaced Karen still struggling, there is much work yet to be done.
In Mae Sot, CFI operates a small but intense school for Karen students mostly in their teens. The school, now called the Victory Bible Academy, teaches practical subjects within a Christian framework . . .
VBA is overseen by a redoubtable Canadian couple, Joe and Marnie Scott, who manage, teach, and serve the students. As the Scotts confront big practical challenges every day, they also promote their students’ spiritual education. It isn’t always easy, since for some Karen, Christianity is more an identity than a way of life, and it is not always easy to see God amid years of hardship and despair. But there is evidence that the message is having an impact on students. During their school breaks many students choose to return to Burma to promote their faith, and CFI’s Wendy Wright reports that half of the school’s recent graduates work in some way aiding their communities.”
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