Students of a government joint-middle school in a rural area in Burma's northern Kachin State are being forcibly used to clean a Buddhist temple even though the school is in session. The order comes from the Burmese military base in the vicinity, said school sources.
The school in Kachin village called Tayang Zup, 54 miles north of Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, has about 100 students almost all of whom are ethnic Kachin Christians from the village and the Triangle Areas between Mali Hka River and N'Mai Hka River under the control of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), said the villagers.
All the students in the school have already done jobs such as cleaning grass and felling trees in the temple compound, which is located one mile from the village, more than thrice during the monsoons from May to September, villagers said.
The order to clean the Buddhist temple comes from the village-based Burmese army battalion. The school has had to close for cleaning the temple, said residents of Tayang Zup.
School sources said Kachin students have to work in the temple despite feeling that they are committing a sin as Christians and are thus frustrated.
Tayang Zup is close to the 4th Battalion of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed-wing of the KIO. It is also the military frontline of the Burmese Army where its battalions are based under a rotational system every three or four months, said villagers.
Given the order by the military, Christians in the village feel that the Burmese Army is trying to indoctrinate Kachin school students into Buddhism, said sources in the village's Christian community.
Under the country's education system of the junta, all students from government primary to high school have to learn Buddhism as a subject on a compulsory basis.
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