Thousands of Burmese Christians flee to Malaysia to escape persecution

The government of Myanmar has been accused of covering up violence and genocide against its religious minorities after more than 100,000 Christians fled to Malaysia to escape religious persecution and are now living there as refugees.

(REUTERS / Damir Sagolj)Refugees react as Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the Mae La refugee camp, where tens of thousands of her compatriots live, near Mae Sot at the Thailand-Myanmar border June 2, 2012.

According to one of the Burmese Christians who fled the country, Myanmar is no longer safe for them. The same person said there were people who were either killed or thrown in prison for their faith, TRT World relays.

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"Myanmar isn't safe for us," the Burmese Christian refugee said. "They killed people, sent people to jail because of religion."

The civilian government of Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has been accused of religious violence and genocide against Muslims, Christians and other minorities. These acts of abuse are allegedly perpetrated by Buddhist nationalists and even members of the military and police.

Earlier this month, the Catholic Sentinel published a story featuring Joseph Pau Lam Mung, a Christian whose family fled persecution in Myanmar, sought refuge in Malaysia for 10 years, and has already resettled in Portland, U.S. He belongs to a Christian ethnic minority called Zomi, which hails from the Myanmar state of Chin.

The Zomi people in Chin have been persecuted under the 1965 Censor Law, which outlawed Chin-language Bibles. Aside from that, Christians in the mountainous state are prohibited from converting from one religion to another and could face arrest, a jail sentence or death if they go against the restrictions. The government also has very strict rules on church construction and renovation.

In 2009, Human Rights Watch reported that the people of Chin have been subjected to arbitrary arrests and detention, extrajudicial killings, torture, seizure of properties and other restrictions on religious liberty. An uprising in 1988 worsened the situation and led to more killings and arrests.

As of now, there are a number of Zomi Christian refugees in Malaysia who are applying for asylum in Portland. As of February, the Portland Zomi Catholic faith community has grown to around 500 people. Most of them have no hopes of returning to Myanmar and consider America as their "second heaven" after all the suffering they endured in their home country.

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