Chin Christians coerced to convert to Buddhism: CHRO

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The Chin Human Rights Organisation has revealed in a report how Chin Christians are being coerced to convert to Buddhism.

The CHRO released a report called ‘Threats to Our Existence: Persecution of Ethnic Chin Christians in Burma’ on September 5 in Bangkok. The report is compiled from over 100 interviews conducted over the past two years.

The 160-page report talks of violations of the right to freedom of religious assembly, coercion to convert to Buddhism and four instances of destruction of Christian crosses in Chin State. It also examines the issue of freedom of religion for ethnic Chin Christians, both under previous military regimes, and the current nominally-civilian government in Burma.  The report exposes serious on-going human rights violations, even as the government claims to strengthen reforms in the country.

The CHRO Program Director, Salai Za Uk Ling said, “President Thein Sein’s government claims that religious freedom is protected by law but in reality Buddhism is treated as the de-facto state religion. The discriminatory state institutions and ministries of previous military regimes continue to operate in the same way today. Few reforms have touched Chin State.”

The CHRO research reveals there are 29 Na Ta La (Border Areas National Races Youth Development Training) schools across Burma, primarily targeting ethnic and religious minorities. The schools function outside the mainstream, are chronically underfunded in the education system and practice targeted recruitment of impoverished Chin, who lack the means to pay for alternative schooling.

The report also highlighted that there are 108 pagodas in Chin state although 90 percent of the population are Christians; 49 pagodas in Mindat township, 23 in Kanpetlet township, 10 in Falam township, six in Paletwa township, five in Hakha township, four in Teddim township, four in Tonzang township, three in Thantlang township, two in Matupi township and one in Cikha sub-township.

The state religious department in Chin state has delayed the process of application of land for Christian worship houses by some church leaders over the last three months. Khonumthung news

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