Baptist pastor shot dead by unknown hitmen in Myanmar

People walk outside of a church in the Kachin state of Myanmar, where 95 percent of residents are Christian.
People walk outside of a church in the Kachin state of Myanmar, where 95 percent of residents are Christian. | Twitter/@BobRobertsJr

A Baptist pastor has been killed in Myanmar’s Kachin state, marking a grim escalation in the region’s ongoing conflict. The 47-year-old pastor, associated with the Kachin Baptist Convention, was fatally shot in his computer shop by three unidentified assailants, according to a report.

Pastor Nammye Hkun Jaw Li from Mogaung township suffered gunshot wounds to the head and abdomen Monday, UCA News reported. His death has intensified concerns in Kachin, a state already ravaged by violence since the 2021 coup by the military, also known as the Tatmadaw.

Li wasn't only a religious leader but also a prominent figure in local anti-military protests and community initiatives against drug abuse. He was involved with the KBC and the anti-drug group Pat Jasan in Kachin.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

The incident occurred in a township that has witnessed significant unrest, with the local population bearing the brunt of the conflict.

Mourning his loss, his family and local residents have demanded justice, though they have not pointed fingers at any group for the attack, UCA News said.

Numerous deaths and displacements have occurred in Kachin state since the military takeover. The area, with a significant Christian population, has seen religious tensions intertwine with political strife.

The arrest and subsequent imprisonment of Hkalam Samson, another Baptist leader, by the military reflects the heightened risks faced by religious and community leaders in Kachin.

The Buddhist nationalist military’s actions against Christian entities have been notably aggressive, with accusations of supporting insurgent groups.

The conflict has seen the Kachin Independence Army gaining ground against military forces, capturing strategic locations and disrupting military operations. Recent reactionary military offensives have indiscriminately targeted civilian areas, causing casualties and property damage.

The context of the conflict in Myanmar reveals a pattern of severe human rights abuses, particularly in Christian-majority areas like Kachin. The Tatmadaw’s bombing of an internally displaced persons camp in October 2023, resulting in significant civilian casualties, exemplifies the brutal tactics employed.

The international community has scrutinized Myanmar’s military for its relentless crackdown on civilians, especially in regions with a strong Christian presence. The ongoing violence in Kachin, characterized by both military and rebel actions, continues to destabilize the state, affecting thousands of lives and altering the social fabric of this troubled region.

Last September, the regional bloc Association of Southeast Asian Nations voted to remove Myanmar from its scheduled 2026 chairmanship, opting for the Philippines instead.

Although a majority of Myanmar’s population is ethnic Burman and Buddhist, the country is home to several ethnic and religious communities. About 20%-30% of the ethnic Karen are Christian, and in Chin State, where the majority of the population is Christian, the military finds a target-rich environment for its operations.

The Tatmadaw has a history of persecution against these minority groups, including Rohingya Muslims and Christians, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern said earlier, explaining that their tactics include bombing civilian areas, torturous interrogations and attempts at forced conversions to Buddhism.

The long-standing persecution has led many to flee Myanmar, seeking refuge in neighboring countries like India and Thailand. Some have even resettled as far away as the United States and Australia. However, many remain in refugee camps close to the Myanmar border, facing decades of uncertainty.

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles