Mennonites in Myanmar face desperate situation

Amid mass protests, lethal military response and UN warnings of Myanmar becoming a “new Syria,” one Mennonite source in the country said. “We are in darkness, full of fear and with no hope for the future.”

This story does not use the source’s name due to the threat to those who speak critically of the military.

A military coup on 1 February 2021 sparked largely peaceful protests and general strikes. According to our source and news reports, the military showed restraint at first but then began using live ammunition on peaceful protesters.

More than 800 protesters have been killed by the military, including dozens of children.

More than 5,800 more have been detained, with reports of torture being used on some.

The violence and fear come on top of the pandemic, which already had devastating financial impacts on many people’s livelihoods, with many work places shut down.

“We are struggling for our daily food to survive,” wrote our source, referring to the food crisis among hundreds of church families. “Our income generation is zero because of the impact of the pandemic and the political crisis.”

There are about 2,000 Mennonites in 50 congregations in the largely Buddhist country, formerly known as Burma.

On 15 April 2021, MWC issued a pastoral letter to the church in Myanmar, acknowledging the suffering, and calling on God for mercy.

Months later, the military continue to harass civilians, resulting in displacement and suffering.

“The situation in our country is getting worse,” says our source, who reports many church members are displaced. “The junta is armed and killing every day.

“On the other hand, COVID-19 is spreading in the country for the third time... [This] is very worrying because there is no care.

“People have abandoned their villages. They live in the jungle with no food and in the rain. Pray especially for our church people, struggling to make ends meet and fleeing war.”

An MWC article adapted from Will Braun. His original article appeared in the May 10, 2021 print issue of Canadian Mennonite.

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