Magazine article Anglican Journal

Burmese Refugees Live Faith in Camps: Karen People Still Not Safe from Army

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Burmese Refugees Live Faith in Camps: Karen People Still Not Safe from Army

Article excerpt

Toronto

Burmese refugees who have sought refuge in neighbouring Thailand from persecution in their own country are keeping their faith alive, said a Canadian priest who recently returned to Canada after teaching in Thailand for two-and-a-half years.

Rev. Ken Abbott, who is originally from the Diocese of Nova Scotia, said 100,000 Karen people -- the second largest ethnic group in Burma -- were driven across the border into Thailand by the Burmese army since 1988, when the military crushed pro-democracy protestors, killing and jailing thousands. Those jailed include Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest for six years until 1995. The overwhelming winner of the 1990 democratic election, she still can only meet visitors with government approval.

The 3,000 Karen (pronounced like the girl's name Corinne) Anglicans in the camps have built themselves seven Anglican churches and are continuing to school their children and live their faith the best they can, said Mr. Abbott.

About seven priests and 11 catechists are among the camps and "even in this terrible situation," he said, they are quietly converting both others in the camps and Thai Karen, many of whom are animists.

Bangkok's (Anglican) Christ Church runs a Karen Outreach program which supports the churches in the camp, supplying Bibles, prayer books and emergency relief items like medicine, food, blankets and building materials.

The Canadian and international church are also supplying food, clothing, building materials and other necessities to the refugees, but the diet is extremely basic: fish paste and rice, three times a day. …

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