The military in Myanmar are increasingly using sophisticated technology to watch people – including Ko Aung*. Despite trying to help others, the young Christian is instead viewed with suspicion, making it unsafe to stay in the country. He dreams of returning home to help others, just as you’ve helped him.
The authorities' surveillance of Ko Aung in Myanmar has forced him to flee the country
Ko Aung* realised he was in danger when his access to not one but two banking apps was suddenly blocked. He tried to open a new bank account, but couldn’t. His fears came true when he discovered that his identity card had been flagged by the authorities. This has serious consequences. “It means I am no longer a citizen of Myanmar,” he says.
The suspicions against Ko Aung emerged following the military coup in February 2021 and centre around his relationship with a group of tribal believers. Having earlier converted to Christianity from Buddhism, he had got to know them after returning home at the beginning of the pandemic and, working as an Open Doors local partner, he helped provide practical and spiritual support for them.
“Before the military coup, me helping Christians would not have been a big issue, but now things had changed,” says Ko Aung. “They [the military] believed I was against them, working with the youth rebel groups.”
As surveillance intensified, Ko Aung was fearful of arrest and even death. With the help of Open Doors local partners, he fled to another country, but with the military’s increasing use of sophisticated technology – much of which comes from China – he must tread with extreme caution. Even use of basic technology to communicate with family back home is risky.
“In Myanmar, people are afraid to comment on political issues over the phone,” Ko Aung says. “They are afraid that the military might be eavesdropping their phone calls. We also don’t normally use Facebook Messenger, because the military checks Facebook messaging apps and phone call lists whenever they check phones.”
Since escaping, Ko Aung’s heart has softened towards those persecuting him and other Christians. “At first, it was very hard for me to forgive them, but now I can say that I have forgiven them,” he shares. “God taught me through His Word that all things happen for good. Since I have experienced persecution, I can now better understand the pain experienced by Christians suffering for their faith.”
"God taught me through His Word that all things happen for good" Ko Aung
He even sees the hope of the gospel in the military coup. “I think that after the coup, the younger generation is now more open to faiths other than Buddhism,” he says.
Sadly, Ko Aung’s mother died after he had escaped. “I was extremely grieved as I didn't have the chance of seeing her one last time,” he says. He longs to return home to be to see his family and continue his calling. “Once the coup ends and the situation is better, I want to go back home place and continue to support ethnic Christians in remote areas as an Open Doors partner.”
*Name changed for security reasons
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