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Region East and Southeast Asia
Leader President Htin Kyaw
Population 54 836 000
Christian 8%
Main Religion Buddhism
Government Parliamentary Republic
Rank 24
Score 65
Previous Rank 28
Previous Score 62

“Idols are not alive. Jesus is alive. I no longer wanted to worship them.”

Myanmar has a tumultuous history. In 1948 the country achieved independence but chose not to become a Commonwealth nation. In 1962 the country set its modern trajectory when a military coup took place. A series of civil wars occurred as minorities rebelled against the brutal dictatorship. From 2008 to 2010 the country went through a series of reforms. Myanmar had its first free and fair elections in 25 years in 2016.

The score for violence against Christians decreased, however, this does not indicate an improvement, but rather illustrates the growing difficulties in obtaining reports from war-torn Christian minority areas. A problem which is also acknowledged by other international organisations. Pressure comes from both sides: from radical Buddhist groups on one side, and the government on the other. In 2016, the Laws on the Protection of Race and Religion were implemented by the government, seeing a large increase in persecution against Christians.

Buddhism is the majority religion and could be used to instigate nationalism and further marginalise every other religion. The Buddhist majority have already put attempts in place to try and curb the spread of Islam. Christians are also viewed with suspicion. Several challenges from years of war are also present. Poverty, mistrust and corruption are big issues, particularly in rural areas.

Open Doors strengthens persecuted believers in Myanmar through Christian literature distribution, discipleship programmes, pastoral and leadership training, and livelihood support.

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