A. Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA), headed a delegation of twelve American Baptists and Baptist World Alliance (BWA) representatives on Friday, February 8, in a visit to engage US State Department officials around concerns raised by the continuing religious and human rights violations in Burma.
During the meeting with 6 representatives from various desks related to Burma, the delegation addressed five main concerns:
1) the continued military offensive against the Kachin and the state of the peace talks;
2) the abuses of women and children by the military, especially the rape of women and the recruitment of child soldiers;
3) ongoing religious persecution of Christians –especially the desecration of churches;
4) the imposition of sanctions against the military; and
5) the future of the camps along the Thai-Burma border.
Florence Li, national coordinator and Asian churches strategist with the American Baptist Home Mission Societies said, “The meeting was very productive and the conversations exchanged will impact the U.S. government in their engagement process with Burma. It was well understood that the Kachin people together with other ethnic minority people groups will continue to stand for their human rights and religious freedom through their solidarity.”
The delegation met with the state department officials who were interested in the first-hand accounts members of the delegation offered. There was a lot of give and take of information as the conversation developed.
“We are very fortunate to have Rev. Florence Li of ABHMS who compiled a workbook with a great deal of information about our concerns that was distributed to the officials present,” remarked Dr. Medley. “In addition, the first-hand accounts that our delegation was able to give were well received. Our visits are important for the information and perspectives we offer and for the visible concern of American Baptists that we represent.
Members of the delegation included: Aundriea Alexander (ABHMS), Raimundo Barreto (BWA), Rothangliani Chhangte (BWA), Saw Ler Htoo (Karen leader), Duh Kam (Chin leader); Zauya Lahpai (Kachin leader); Hkadin Lahtaw Lee (Kachin women); Florence Li (ABHMS), Gam San Maung (Kachin Alliance), Naw San Dee KD (Kachin leader), Stan Murray (Inernational Ministries).