By BosNewsLife Asia Service
LONDON/RANGOON (BosNewsLife)– Thousands of Christians worldwide will unite in prayer for Burma next week as part of global day of prayer for the nation, organizers said.
It comes amid reports that thousands of predominantly Christian Karens have fled their homes amid fresh attacks by government backed troops on their villages.
The Global Day of Prayer for Burma first began in 1997, initiated by Christians Concerned for Burma at the request of Burma’s democracy leader, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
“It has since become an internationally recognised event attended by those struggling to see an end to suffering in Burma,” said Britain-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which has investigated the situation of Christians in Burma, also known as Myanmar.
CSW said it would organize the prayer day at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster, London, on Saturday, March 13, together with groups Karen Aid and Partners Relief & Development.
“A prominent member of the Karen Refugee Committee (KRC), Htooku Hsarsay, will tell delegates about the challenging issues currently facing Burmese exiles in the United Kingdom today. Htooku was only eleven years old when the Burma Army attacked her village in Karen State, killing her father and forcing the family into the jungle.”
She and family members lived as refugees in neighboring Thailand for the next twenty years, before moving to England in 2007, CSW said
CSW and other officials will also speak about the reported military crackdown on Karen and Shan ethnic minority groups and the refugee situation, ahead of upcoming elections, and participants were to hear Burmese praise songs to be sung by Karen vocalists living in Britain.
“This year is a crucial year for Burma, as the regime plans to hold sham elections to entrench its power,” said Benedict Rogers, CSW’s East Asia Team Leader and author of A Land Without Evil: Stopping the Genocide of Burma’s Karen People.
“It is therefore vital that we unite in prayer for the nation – pray for peace, true freedom, and real change, an end to the regime’s crimes against humanity and reign of terror, the release of political prisoners, and for strength for Burma’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.”
Burmese military government has suggested that Aung San Suu Kyi could be released after years of house arrest, but critics have warned that this may only happen after the upcoming ballot.
The government has denied wrongdoing, describing reports of persecution and detentions of Christians and political opponents as U.S.-led “propaganda”.
The Karen community has been among those hardest hit as it has been fighting for more autonony and religious and political rights, rights activists say. They are also targetted as Christianity is seen as a threat to the government’s powerbase, according to rights group Christian Freedom International.