The following statement was given to Julie Warner by one of the Kachin Baptist pastors in Mandalay during the Friendship Tour to Burma.
On behalf of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) and the Lower Kachin Baptist Association (located in Mandalay), I would like to present this report on the conflict presently occurring in Kachin State, with emphasis on its impact on Kachin Christian Society.
I am happy to be in the presence of Baptist Leaders from around the globe and to present this report from the General Secretary of KBC.
The year 2011 is historic for the KBC. On June 9, 2011, the ceasefire agreement between the Burmese government and the Kachin People was broken, and fighting erupted between the Burmese Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). A ceasefire, under the Pinlone Agreement, was originally established in 1947 between the Burmese government under General Aung San and leaders of the Kachin, Shan, and Chin peoples. From 1961 to 1994, civil war persisted in Kachin State. Another ceasefire was established in 1994 and lasted until 2011.
The consequences of this current war are that many Kachin people have lost their houses, farms, and personal possessions, and have been forced to flee their villages. Many have relocated to the nearest town and have sought shelter in the local churches. The Kachin Baptist Churches have taken on the responsibility of housing refugees and the challenge of keeping them safe. The following is a list of the Baptist Associations within the KBC and an estimate of the number of refugees in each area who have sought refuge in the churches –
• Refugees in China 27,000
• Myitkyina area churches (Myitkyina Association) 7,000
• Waimaw area churches (Waimaw Assoc.) 2,000
• Bomaw area churches (Bomaw Assoc.) 1,200
• Momauk area churches (Bomaw Assoc.) 2,000
• Shweku area churches (Bomaw Assoc.) 300
• Sumprabum area churches (Hka Hku Assoc.) 120
There are a total of 15 regional Associations within the KBC working together for God’s ministry. The Bomaw and Sama Associations have been particularly hard hit by the conflict and churches are not able to conduct regular Sunday worship. Church buildings have been destroyed and villages burned. Within the area covered by the Bomaw Association, for example, only 7 churches out of 41 are able to conduct Sunday services. In the Sama Association, 2 out of 21 churches have survived. As the conflict continues in many parts of Kachin State, government army soldiers are committing grave human rights abuses against the Kachin people. Most of the victims are women and children. The Kachin people are struggling to survive, and hungering for education, health, economic development, and the right to live peacefully.
I would like to request that Baptist Peace Fellowship North America and our Baptist friends around the world please carry this information to your countries so that all the Christian Organizations will know of the situation of the Kachin people. Please remember us in your prayers.