Christian Refugees Banned from America

April 3, 2006

Christian Freedom International concerned about growing hostility in Washington toward persecuted Christian asylum seekers and refugees.

MAE HONG SONG, Thailand, April 3 /Christian Newswire/ — Rie Htoo, 20, is ethnic Karen and was born in Burma. “My mother died when I was seven, my father died when I was 15,” Rie Htoo told Christian Freedom International. “I have two brothers and three sisters. I became a Christian when I was young.”

“In April 2002 we came to the refugee camp,” said Rie Htoo. “We had so many problems in Burma, our parents were dead. There was no future, no hope for us.”

Rie Htoo said, “Burmese soldiers would come to our village they would ask us to do things, they would point a gun at us and tell us to work. They would beat us. Life in Burma was very hard.”

After a long dangerous journey, Rie Htoo and her siblings arrived in a refugee camp in Thailand. “We lived with our uncle in the camp. Even though we don’t have parents we are happier in the camps,” said Rie Htoo.

As refugees Rie Htoo and her siblings are desperately trying to come to America. “We signed up with the UNHCR last December to be resettled to another country,” said Rie Htoo. “We can’t go back to Burma. The Burmese soldiers would kill us if we went back. There is no future in the refugee camps. I want to go to America to learn more so I can come back and help my people.”

Rie Htoo recently graduated from a Christian Freedom International Bible School near Mae Hong Song, Thailand. “I saw a lot of people doing Christian work so I wanted to be a part of that. So I signed up to go to the CFI Bible School,” said Rie Htoo. “Before coming to the Bible School I didn’t know a lot about the Bible, but now I know so much about Paul, David and so many things in scripture. I want to work for the Lord for my life. I am going back to the church in my refugee camp. And I am going to work for the Lord in the church.”

Rie Htoo said, “I always tell others to attend the CFI Bible School, but some cannot come. I think it is a really good place. Thank you to people who support this school. I pray you would be blessed a thousand times. We really like American volunteers to come; we learn so much. I hope more people come to help with our English.”

Christian refugees from Burma, like Rie Htoo, are currently banned from America. The Department of Homeland Security is refusing to allow Rie Htoo and others like her to enter the U.S. because of national security concerns. Fortunately, Canada, Australia, and other nations have opened their doors to the Karen refugees.

According to CFI President Jim Jacobson, “There is a growing hostility in Washington against persecuted Christian asylum seekers and Christian refugees like the Karen and Karenni of Burma. While we see so many people allowed to enter the country illegally, our government is shutting its doors to persecuted Christian asylum seekers and refugees. It is not fair; it is not right. There is a definite double standard here.”

Jacobson recently expressed disappointment with the U.S. government for not offering Abdul Rahman asylum, a man in Afghanistan who faced the death penalty after converting from Islam to Christianity.

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