The People of Kachin State
Those who are fighters in the trenches, literally or otherwise, will find my report on Kachin State anywhere from mildly to wildly inaccurate and unrepresentative of the real situation there. I have never been to Kachin State, or Myanmar, or any of the surrounding countries of Southeast Asia. I have never witnessed the atrocities of the fighting men of Burma (Myanmar today). I have never experienced anything like the life-style of the mountain people struggling for their existence as a people there. I am simply an EarnWithSocial.server from afar, and apologize up front for my dependence on meager and probably inadequate sources of information.
I know also that there are the theological types who will be critical of the whole premise of persecution in Kachin because, as will be pointed out, much of what happens in Northeast Burma is political and has seemingly nothing to do with the church. They will suggest that many of the people dying there were Christians in name only.
I imagine some of that is true. I also imagine your own family has people like that, and your church and your community. But when the blood begins to spatter on the sidewalks of our towns here, it will be difficult for us to ignore the reality of the trauma that is occurring. And even if 9 out 10 of the people falling are not your spiritual brothers, I am certain you will not be able to look on the scene without terror filling your heart, as you rush to find a way to stop the bloodbath, and to save your family and your neighbors, the rest of them.
I ask that you view Kachin State through that lens, the lens of neighbor-loving, massacre-avoidance, personal tragedy, as though it were your own person affected, and allow God to be the judge of who knew Him and who didn’t. Kachin State is a horrific tragedy and needs Christian concern and it needs it today, now.
I have found in this research a mystery, a lot of history, and an opportunity for God’s people to react.
I. The Mystery.
There are probably many unsolved mysteries about the Kachin. But the one that troubles me the most at this writing, is, why am I just now hearing about the Kachin people? Where have I been all this time when their history was developing? I have worked with the persecuted in one way or another for nearly 30 years. These are largely a Christian people. Why didn’t I know about them?
And why has the media by and large ignored the slaughter here and in places like Nigeria, Kenya, the Philippines? Something to do with American interests not being served by helping folks that live up in the hills of a foreign country? No oil wells? No serious political ties?
Have you heard of these people? Let me share with you the little bit of information I was able to glean from the ever-present internet.
II. Some History.
A. of the Kachin people.
The Kachin people go by quite a few different names. They are called Jingpho, Singpho, Jinghpaw, and more. They live in at least 3 border nations, mainly in northeastern Burma, but also in neighboring China and India. My focus will be on those who live in Burma, or Myanmar, the modern name of that country. One million Kachin live there, as opposed to only 150,000 in China.
Who are they? The various tribal groups that make up the Kachin people do have some clear characteristics: “fierce independence, disciplined fighting skills, complex clan inter-relations, embrace of Christianity, craftsmanship, herbal healing, and jungle survival skills.” (Wikipedia)
But not all who live in Kachin State (northeastern-most state of Burma) are Kachin. The territory is home also to Thai and Lao natives, Lisus, Rawangs, Nagas, and the largest ethnic group in Burma, the Burmans. Though some want to call all of these residents of the state, “Kachin”, the Kachin tribe itself does not favor such a designation. That is where “Jinghpaw” comes into play. “Jingphaw Wunpawng” means all the residents of the state, whereas Jingphaw used alone refers only to ethnic Kachins.