David Eubanks of Free Burma Rangers shares this disturbing story.
We walked into a small jungle clearing to see children sitting under the trees reading their lessons. They were intensively focused on their books and learning their subjects. One little boy was reading an English lesson and one girl looked up from her reading and gave us a big smile. The headmaster said, “This is our school under the trees in the jungle where we are hiding from Burma Army attacks. We sleep here on the ground by this small stream. Tomorrow we have examinations and so the children are preparing right now for them. We have another little clearing just up on that hill 50 yards away that will be the examination room.”
A 24-year-old teacher nursing a baby said, “Thank you for coming and we thank God we can keep teaching even when the Burma Army tries to stop us.” Another young teacher, 20 years old, told us with tears in her eyes that in 2010 her father had been gunned down by the Burma Army and that she missed him all the time. Now it was her desire to teach and help the children. As we talked, the Burma Army began to shell, and six mortar rounds were fired. The head teacher, holding his young son, radioed resistance forces that were between the hiding place and the Burma Army. He told them the Burma Army was not advancing, just shelling.
The village that the teachers and students are from is Ler Cho Ko, in Ler Doh, Nyaunglebin District, Northwestern Karen State. These are some of the now over 6,500 people displaced by new attacks of the Burma Army.
As noted in the 21Wilberforce Burma fact sheet, Burmese military (officially called Tatmadaw) recently seized control and overthrew its democratically elected government. People have taken to the streets across Burma to protest against the coup, which is led by General Min Aung Hlaing. Burma’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been detained along with members of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).
The military coup threatens to further inflame the ongoing violence perpetrated by the military for years against ethnic and religious minorities, with the military destroying whole villages and places of worship for Christians, Muslims, and other minority communities. As the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has noted, in Burma ethnic-driven conflict and degradation of other civil rights often coincide with religious differences, thereby severely restricting freedom of religion or belief.
If you would like to stand with persecuted communities in Burma, Free Burma Rangers invites you to join in a global day of prayer for Burma on Sunday, March 14, 2021. Also visit the 21Wilberforce online Freedom Center to learn more about the situation in Burma and how you can encourage the U.S. Congress to support freedom in Burma.