Prayer houses threatened with closure in Rangoon

Jan 13, 2009 (DVB), Christian prayer houses in Rangoon wards have been told by the government’s Ministry of Religious Affairs to stop holding group prayer services or face closure, according to local worshippers.

An official from one of the prayer houses said building owners had been ordered to sign an agreement banning group prayer and religious services on their premises.

"Recently government officials from the Rangoon division Religious Affairs department went to the ward administration offices and summoned the owners of the buildings being used as prayer houses," the official said.

"They handed the owners an order which prohibits the use of private premises as religious buildings such as churches or mosques, and also bans group prayers and religious teaching in those buildings," he said.

"They were also asked to sign a form agreeing to the regulations. Every owner had to sign five papers."

Under the terms of the agreement, any violation will result in the house being shut down.

There are currently about 50 prayer houses in Rangoon.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs was unavailable for comment.

Reporting by Ahunt Phone Myat

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