Dear American Baptists,
On January 27 I leave for Thailand and Burma for almost a month with an ABC delegation and Mr. Jim Winkler, General Secretary of the NCC. Our visit concerns the plight of our brothers and sisters both within Burma and those who have fled to neighboring countries.
Reports like the following come to me on a regular basis about the continuing atrocities within Burma itself (I am sparing you the pictures of their bloodied bodies):
“Couldn’t sleep tonight. 2 Kachin Baptist volunteers were raped and beaten to death by Burma Army.
Jan. 19, 12pm, soldiers under Maj Aung soe Myint from LIB 503 gang rape and beat to death two Kachin Baptist Church volunteers Maran Lu 20 Ra and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Din 20 at the church compound in Kawng Hka Shabuk village west of Nam Tau and Nbaw Pa Road, Northern Shan State.”
While in both countries we shall meet with Baptist leaders, members of the councils of churches, US embassy officials, UN staff, and political leaders, as we continue to press for the cause of religious liberty and human rights within Burma with the ceasing of violence by the military against our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We will also probe the current situations within Malaysia (Rev. Florence Li of ABHMS will visit there before joining us in Bangkok) and in the border camps in Thailand. We are greatly concerned about involuntary repatriation back to Burma of those within the camps due to the ongoing military assaults, the presence of landmines throughout the homeland areas of the camp residents, and the fact that for over 20 years now those born within the camps have no experience in farming or other ways of making a living due to the policies of the Thai government that govern the camps. The majority of those who were processed by the UN for resettlement many years ago have now been resettled. The Thai government has consistently refused a new registration. So, those living within the camps, especially those born in them, are stateless, meaning they have no official recognition as either Thai or Burmese citizens. At the same time, the many NGO’s who have been providing food and other humanitarian aid are shifting their focus to Burma itself and reducing support for the camps. The camp residents are caught between a rock and a hard place. The Thai government will not allow the UN to register them as refugees, so they cannot be resettled in other countries; food and other resources within the camps are dwindling, so it is increasingly difficult to sustain life and any sense of future there. And in Burma, their citizenship, human rights, religious freedom and safety are not guaranteed.
Through all of this, our brothers and sisters lean heavily on the mercies of their Lord and the support of American Baptists in their struggles. Please pray for us as we go representing you and the concern we have for them. It is so important that they know that the body of Christ outside is aware of their plight. Please pray for us, especially as we are preaching and speaking often. Ask God to give us the right message to encourage our brothers and sisters, and the right words as we speak with various officials about the situation.
Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley