When Digital Persecution Drove Ko Aung from Myanmar

Since the military coup in 2021, digital monitoring in Myanmar has increased. Ko Aung* had to flee the country because of his work with ethnic-minority Christians – but he’s still not safe.

Read more about at: opendoorsuk.org/news/latest-news/myanmar-ko-aung Open Doors Prayer News 298 (September-October 2023)

Find out more at opendoorsuk.org/prayernews

*Name changed for security reasons.

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Ko Aung*

“When I lived in Myanmar if we needed to talk about political things, we didn’t talk on the phone at all. We didn’t talk about that on the phone because we all suspected that the military was eavesdropping our phone calls. We also have to be careful what we post and share on Facebook. If they find something posted or shared on Facebook against the military they will arrest that person on the spot and send them to an interrogation centre.

“In the bit cities they have installed many CCTV cameras and they are trying to adopt the ‘smart city’ project with face recognition software. To adopt that smart city project they get help from China with the infrastructure, technology and even technicians.

“So when I look at the situation in Myanmar from a digital persecution perspective my guess is that the persecution will get greater and greater.”

Since the military coup in 2021, digital monitoring in Myanmar has increased as local partner Ko Aung knows all too well. He used to help ethnic Christians in areas where clashes between the military and anti-military took place.

“I normally supported the believers in those areas with rice, oil, Bibles and hymn books. When I supported the Christians in those areas the pro-military people assumed that I was supporting the anti-military group. So after some time, they started tracking me. And then they blocked my mobile banking. And later they flagged my National Identity Card. And I kind of lost my national identity.”

Ko Aung’s activities had attracted the unwanted attention of the military authorities. He could not open a new bank account and feared being falsely accused of crimes and sent to jail.

“Sometimes the military came and made their camps near our villages. I was afraid that at any time they would find out where I was and come and arrest me or even worse kill me at any time. At night when a car passed by or braked near our house, I woke up and got frightened. I had many sleepless nights and my health was deteriorating day by day. I still remember those days. I was very thing and
I lost much of my hair.”

Fellow Open Doors partners helped Ko Aung to escape to a neighbouring country. But he is still not 100% safe. He must continue to take care that he is not traced and deported back to Myanmar.

“I might be on the wanted list in Myanmar, so I have to hid my accurate location. I avoid posting my exact location on Facebook. My siblings in my village dare not contact me directly because at any time soldiers could come to their home and check their phones.”

Open Doors partners continue to support Ko Aung in his new location. But his dream is to return to Myanmar and restart his ministry.

“They always contact me and ask if I am okay here. They pray for me too. They are very supportive. I would like to request you all continue to pray for my safety here that I would hold God’s hand in difficult times – and also for our fellow Christians in our country. My dream is, when the coup ends that I will go back there and support those ethnic Christians.”

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