Majority-Buddhist Myanmar is made up of eight major and eight minor ethnic groups, each of which hoped for autonomy after Burmese independence 70 years ago, and some of the world’s longest-running civil wars continue here. Operation World, a Christian missionary organisation, calls Myanmar “a deeply fractured nation on a political and especially ethnic level”. The conflict zones along the country’s borders are where most of Myanmar’s Christians live, including the Kachin and Karen ethnic minorities, which have faced years of government oppression. Meanwhile, the rise in the number of Muslims has provoked the Patriotic Association of Myanmar, locally known as Ma Ba Tha and led by influential Buddhist monks. Ma Ba Tha is not merely anti-Muslim, it is Buddhist nationalist, so Christians are not beyond its focus.

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2017 Myanmar refugee suicide study

A new study has found a high incidence of suicide among women in camps housing long-term refugees fleeing Myanmar’s ethnic conflict, reports the BBC News Magazine. In a study of refugees in Thailand’s Mae La camp, where 90% are ethnically Karen – a group that mainly identifies as Christian – […]

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USCIRF says Myanmar must ‘control’ its military

A new, critical report on religious freedoms in Myanmar by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom says the major challenge facing Aung San Suu Kyi’s government is “bringing the military under civilian control”. The report says the Burmese Army, which, due to constitutional provisions, is beyond civilian control, has […]

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Myanmar Christians join latest peace talks

Myanmar’s Christians have joined other ethnic groups at this week’s five-day peace conference in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, aimed at ending decades of conflict. The conference was attended by the UN Secretary-General, but some critics say it’s happened without enough preparation and consultation. The 17 ethnic groups, including representatives […]

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Freedom of religion among Myanmar’s ‘biggest challenges’

Freedom of religion among Myanmar’s ‘biggest challenges’

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Myanmar’s first Catholic Cardinal, at the UK Parliament in London, 25 May, 2016. World Watch Monitor   Myanmar’s first ever Catholic Cardinal has said protecting freedom of religion or belief for all is among the “biggest challenges” facing his country as it adapts to life after […]

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Ethnic affairs ministry ‘vital’ to Myanmar

Myanmar’s new President-elect says the appointment of a new ethnic affairs ministry is “vital” for the country’s future. In his first public address, Htin Kyaw said the ministry would be central to Myanmar’s “peace, development and sustainability”. Myanmar is made up of eight major ethnic groups, who all hoped for […]

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