Persecuted Christian Refugees Denied Asylum and Protection by U.S.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Christian Freedom International urges the Department of Homeland Security to allow refugees from Burma asylum and protection in the U.S. and to properly interpret “material support” for terrorists in the Patriot Act.

MAE HONG SONG, Thailand, Mar. 14 /Christian Newswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is currently not permitting persecuted Christian refugees from Burma asylum and protection in the U.S.

According to Christian Freedom International President Jim Jacobson, “DHS bureaucrats are incorrectly using a vague definition of ‘material support’ for terrorists found in the Patriot Act to prevent the refugees from coming to America.”

According to Jacobson, “This is unfair to these Christian refugees in need of our help. America has a long, cherished tradition of providing a home for persecuted refugees. I don’t understand why DHS won’t allow Christian refugees to come to America, it makes no sense.”

Christian Freedom International is urging Congress, the White House, and DHS to allow refugees from Burma asylum and protection in the U.S. and to properly interpret “material support” for terrorists in the Patriot Act.

Many of the refugees awaiting a new home in America and other free nations have fled persecution from Burma’s brutal military junta and have been living in refugee camps in Thailand for more than 25 years.

Pastor Saw Shwe, 55, ethnic Karen, was born in Burma. “In 1965 I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. A few years after becoming a Christian I went to seminary,” said Pastor Saw Shwe to Christian Freedom International.

“I met my wife at the seminary; we got married and moved to Karenni state of Burma. They really needed pastors there,” said Pastor Saw Shwe.

“I had been working as a pastor and one day the Burmese soldiers came to our village,” said Pastor Saw Shwe. “The soldiers forced me into slave labor. I was forced to clear a new camp for the Burmese military. I had to bring my own materials to excavate, to make a fence, to clear the jungle. After that I was forced to work on building a railroad. The bitter experience almost killed me. In 1993 I was able to run away. I fled to the refugee camps in Thailand. Eventually my family was to make it to the refugee camps. We faced many hardships getting here.”

“In the camps I was named Director of Evangelism,” said Pastor Saw Shwe. “I served as headmaster of a Christian Freedom International Bible school.”

“Last year,” said Pastor Saw Shwe, “we signed up with the UN for resettlement to another country. I hope I can go to America. Life is so uncertain here now in the camps. We need to go. I want to go to America, the nation that brought us Christianity.” [Adoniram Judson was an American missionary who brought the Gospel to Burma almost 200 years ago.]

“Unfortunately,” said Jacobson, “DHS bureaucrats currently consider Pastor Saw Shwe, and others like him, as terrorists. This insane interpretation of ‘material support’ found in the Patriot Act must change.”

Since 1999, the U.S. Secretary of State has designated Burma as a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom.

Christian Freedom International operates schools and orphanages for Karen and Karenni refugees along the Burma/Thailand border. CFI also distributes medicine and provides medical care to internally displaced persons in Burma.