21Wilberforce at the Thai-Burma Border

Trent Martin, 21Wilberforce Advocacy Coordinator, recently traveled in Northern Thailand and the Karen State (which is one of the 7 states in Burma) border region with the goals of deepening our partnerships and observing the situation on the ground following renewed violence against religious and ethnic minorities resulting from a military coup in early 2021. In Thailand, he was joined by a 21Wilberforce’s Timothy Fellow currently working and studying in Thailand.

During the trip, the 21Wilberforce team met with key civil society organizations, Karen leaders, ministry partners and Baptist leaders to learn more about the situation. It was sobering to see all the needs in Karen State and in the refugee camps in Thailand. These people have faced decades of war and the current air attacks have forced many people to flee their homes to hide in the jungle. The Burmese military junta, the Tatmadaw, have actively targeted places of worship, schools, and hospitals, displacing nearly 1.5 million people and deliberately blocking access to humanitarian aid. There are many basic needs that need to be met, but our partners on the ground also emphasized the need to educate their students in how to reach a potentially brighter future through effective peacemaking and administration.

This trip also supports our continued policy work on advocating for the passage of the Burma Act in Congress. We recently created a grassroots advocacy tool that has mobilized thousands of church members and Burmese diaspora members to write their members of Congress in support of the proposed legislation. You can read more about that campaign here.

21Wilberforce has also participated with other organizations in pushing for the Rohingya genocide declaration from the US for several years, which thankfully was issued this year. Most recently, we made a video and written statement to the UN Human Rights Council raising awareness for what is happening throughout Myanmar to Christians, Muslims, and other religious minorities.