MYANMAR'S POLITICAL CLIMATE
A coup d’état in Myanmar began on the morning of 1 February 2021, when democratically elected members of the country’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), were deposed by the Tatmadaw—Myanmar’s military. The Tatmadaw proclaimed a year-long state of emergency and declared that power was transferred to Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services, General Min Aung Hlaing. The COVID-19 pandemic in the first, second and third waves and the military coup have pushed Myanmar to the brink of becoming a failed state.
In the last 6 months, countless organizations have left Myanmar due to the resulting instability from the coup and the COVID-19 Pandemic, many NGOs have been targeted and much humanitarian AID has been prevented entry. With few organizations on the ground to help those in need of food, medicine, and other forms of aid, we have witnessed more desperation, starvation, crime, poverty, joblessness, and higher rates of trafficking than ever before.
Below are some of the many things we are witnessing in Myanmar and in the communities we are reaching.
Unity in Myanmar
For over 60 years the ethnic groups of Myanmar have been at war with each other. Since the start of the coup, we have seen the dividing walls between the ethnic groups of Myanmar coming down as they stand in unity against the military junta. We hope that there will be continued unity and that the nation will be forever changed and brought together. Please see this article for further information:
Starvation and Food Insecurity
The economic and social collapse has led to a large-scale malnutrition crisis among children. Families are losing jobs due to increased factory closures, Currently, the only non-exploitative or violent opportunity for income for families is through collecting bottles and recycling. Yangon is the biggest industrial zone in Myanmar and contains more than 850 factories, an estimated 80% of these factories have closed and there have been thousands of layoffs resulting in increased desperation and depression. Families are desperate for any source of income and thus often sell their children into exploitation.
Because of this, we have increased our daily meal program from 3000 to 5000 meals in the worst-hit areas. For many of these people, this is the only meal they eat every day. Our presence in these communities is becoming increasingly important.
Escalation of Violence
With the declaration of Civil War, and the new law from the Military that they are legally allowed to shoot at gatherings larger than 4 people; violence, revenge murders and anarchy is increasing to a fearful level. Crimes such as bank robberies, day-light homicides and trafficking of young women is becoming increasingly normalized in this nation. Recently, in the middle of the day, there was a murder of a gang member outside one of the centers. His body laid there until one of the staff called the police who refused to interfere. Military checkpoints are placed around the city with constant car checks, this violence is bringing fear to many of those living in the poverty-stricken areas of Yangon as they know that there is no longer any legal justice. Stories of domestic violence, child abuse and rape are becoming all too common and are heart-breaking for us to hear
Staff and Family
12,000 political prisoners are being held in Insein prison in Yangon. They were all once Myanmar elite: former politicians, famous celebrities and wealthy businessmen and women. Many prisoners are also many young civilian protesters being held in poor conditions. Then notorious Insein prison was built by the British during colonial times, with an official capacity of only 5000 prisoners, now 12,000 people are unjustly crammed into this prison. Many of the criminals who were here before have been released to make room for political prisoners, this is only contributing to the increased crime and anarchy.
God opened a door through local connections so that we were able to bring in 2000 Bibles to Insein prison to be distributed as literature among the prisoners. This is a fantastic opportunity for the spread of the Gospel as these prisoners have lost all hope of freedom and the future of Myanmar.
Below is a film that shows the changing church in Myanmar, how we are adapting our approach to the gospel due to the political situation.