By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife International Correspondent
RANGOON, BURMA (BosNewsLife)– Christians in Burma on Thursday, October 27, remained concerned over the whereabouts of five men, including a pastor, whose homes were reportedly burned and destroyed after they were briefly detained by Burmese government soldiers.
The incident happened while Pastor Jan Ma Aung Li and the other men were on their way from Nam San Yang village in the Bhamo District of the self declared Kachin State, some 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the town of Laiza, the headquarters of the the Kachin Independence Organization.
Christian with close knowledge about the situation said government soldiers, assigned to clear a road, accused Li of being part of the ethnic Kachin’s independence movement and militia.
When the pastor and his fellow travelers were unable to answer questions about the militia and “weapons cashes” the soldiers allegedly beat them with their rifle butts.
Following the interrogation, the soldiers reportedly tied the hands of the men with wires and took them with them along a rout.
After several hours, the soldiers untied the men but forced to carry the troops’ backpacks. When Li and the others arrived at Lawkathama Monastery, a firefight broke out between government troops and Kachin rebels., witnesses said.
After the battle was over the men were released only to eventually discover their homes had been set on fire, apparently by government forces. Christians said they have fled the area to the nearby area of Laiza.
No more details were immediately available Thursday, October 27, but the incident comes amid ongoing reported pressure by the military government of Burma, also known as Myanmar, on ethnic minorities with a significant Christian population, including the Kachin, who have demanded more ethnic and religious rights in the Asian nation.
Among others being targeted are Karens, with thousands of people reportedly being displaced. Many have also fled to neighboring Thailand.
Burma’s government has come under international pressure to improve human rights, amid international doubts over the fairness of recent elections.