1991-08-27 00:00:00

The government´s Yangon City Corporation (YCC) has ordered the Christian Cemetery Board (CCB) to vacate St. John´s Cantonment Cemetery and move existing graves to a shared site outside the city.

The cemetery, in the heart of the cantonment area, once home to British troops stationed in Yangon, is one of 68 Buddhist, Hindu and Christian cemeteries moved from the city center so the government can use the land.

The CCB was asked to remove the cantonment graves to Kyandaw cemetery, about 10 kilometers outside Yangon. Kyandaw is a mixed Buddhist-Hindu cemetery. The Hindu area covering 1.6 hectares is not in full use and has been provided for cantonment graves. The cantonment cemetery covered 2.8 hectares.

YCC said it has been careful not to disturb Christian cemeteries in its land acquisitions, until now.

In 1989, it ordered that walls be built around all cemeteries. This cost the cantonment cemetery 340,000 kyats (US$52,000).

As compensation for removal and walling costs, the YCC has offered the CCB 500,000 kyats and pledged to build new walls at Kyandaw.

Since the order was made earlier in the year, the CCB has asked for more time and talks have been held with YCC chairman, U Kyi Win.

Win said there is "no discrimination" against Christians because all cemeteries in the city are being moved. The Yangon Zoo has also been asked to relocate.

British Embassy officials in Yangon urged YCC not to disturb the cemetery, the resting place of many British soldiers, but their request was denied.

CCB chairman Pastor U Swaw and board member Father Joseph Daniel say that "Christian cemeteries are sacred," and that the move will disturb the Christian community. In July, the CCB had still not begun to move to Kyandaw.


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