Malaysian Police Arrest 160 Burmese Protesters

More than 160 Burmese nationals, mainly Chin Christians including three women, were arrested outside the Burmese embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Jan. 17 for holding an “illegal” protest, a non-profit Burmese media organization reported today. If convicted, the protesters could be jailed for up to one year or fined.

According to the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) news agency, the demonstrators were protesting against the destruction of a cross planted on a Calvary Hill in Matupi Township in northwest Burma’s Chin State by the soldiers of Burma’s military junta on Jan. 3.

However, Malaysian police say they arrested the demonstrators for holding an “illegal” protest against Burma’s military junta, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), DVB reported. In Malaysia, any gathering of three or more people without a permit is considered illegal.

A Chin national who took part in the protest but escaped the arrest told DVB that in addition the destruction of the cross on Jan. 3, the soldiers also celebrated the destruction of the cross the following day, Burma’s Independence Day, by planting a victory flag where the cross used to be. He added that the protesters also tried to highlight the religious persecutions carried out by the Burmese junta against all religions in Burma.

Persecution watchdog groups such as the Voice of the Martyrs have reported that Buddhism is strongly entrenched in the Burmese majority. Only about five percent of Christians in Burma are converts from Buddhism. VOM also reported that Christian sites and graveyards are frequently demolished and replaced with pagodas, often using Christians as forced labor. Christians have been raped, tortured and murdered.

On the Open Doors “World Watch List” of the top 50 countries where Christians suffer the most, Burma—also known Myanmar—is listed as number nine.