Forces around the world, including the United States, are taking action against Myanmar in response to disturbing claims of ethnic cleansing that has left thousands of Muslims dead and many more displaced.
The U.S. Treasury Department enacted serious sanctions against the nation in an effort to curtail the campaign against the Rohingya minority.
Using the Southeast Asian country’s former name, the agency’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence explained the motivation for the punitive measure.
“Burmese security forces have engaged in violent campaigns against ethnic minority communities across Burma, including ethnic cleansing, massacres, sexual assault, extrajudicial killings, and other serious human rights abuses,” Sigal Mandelker said. “Treasury is sanctioning units and leaders overseeing this horrific behavior as part of a broader U.S. government strategy to hold those accountable for such wide-scale human suffering.”
With the world’s attention on the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar, some groups are pushing to shed light on another group of victims within the nation’s borders.
A minority Christian population is also being pushed out of Myanmar or forced to live in fear of retaliation.
The Nazarene Fund’s East Asia operations manager told Fox News that the Christian faith is “under direct attack” from the nation’s military.
“Christians have repeatedly been singled out for rape, torture, and death over the course of this war, and that trend is continuing,” said Ephraim Mattos.
He said anyone in the country outside of the ruling majority can expect such abusive treatment. There are an estimated 4 million Christians living in Myanmar, which represents just over 8 percent of the nation’s population.
“In Burma, if you don’t fall into the category of being Buddhist and ethnic Burmese, then you are considered second-class, and not worthy of the full rights of a citizen.”
Olivia Enos, an Asian Studies analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, stressed the importance of speaking out against human rights abuses against all minorities in the country.
“Today, religious and ethnic persecution continues to take place, both against the Rohingya, but also against Christian religious minorities,” she said, calling the abuses “similarly severe” among both groups.
“Kachin, for example, are being virtually collectivized — churches burned, land seized, women raped, and children killed before their very eyes,” she said. “Not unlike what Rohingya experienced.”
Some estimates indicate as many as 100,000 Christians have been forced from their homes in Myanmar. Many have taken refuge in the wilderness in hopes of surviving both human and natural threats.
Those Christians who remain have been forced to perform hard labor and tasks including walking through areas known contain buried landmines to protect the soldiers who followed behind.
The recently announced sanctions target individual military commanders and units and will freeze the sanctioned individuals’ U.S. assets.
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