New Report Identifies Freedom of Religion or Belief As Key to Peace, Reconciliation and Democratisation

CSW’s new report on Burma was launched on 21 May at an event in UK Parliament hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Democracy in Burma and chaired by Rushanara Ali MP and Paul Scully MP.

Burma’s identity crisis: How ethno-religious nationalism has led to religious intolerance, crimes against humanity and genocide’ concludes that “key to peace, reconciliation and democratisation in Burma is the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief for everyone.”

The report attempts to provide as comprehensive as possible a picture of violations of freedom of religion or belief throughout the country, examining the sources of intolerance, the role of legislation, the impact on Muslims and Christians throughout the country, the response of the international community, and ways forward.

Speaking at the launch, CSW’s East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said: “The reason for doing this report is that while there are some excellent reports on the terrible persecution of the Rohingyas, a few on the wider persecution of Muslims, and some on the situation for Christians, particularly the Kachin and Chin, there are very few, if any, that weave together the different parts of the jigsaw and present a comprehensive picture that shows that, even if the severity and the scale may vary, throughout the country there is a campaign of ethnoreligious nationalism that has led to hatred and fear essentially for all people; for Muslims, Christians and even Buddhists who dare to have the courage to challenge the Buddhist nationalist agenda.”

Also speaking at the event was Tun Khin, President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, who detailed the well-documented widespread violations of human rights that have been perpetrated against the Rohingya people in recent decades. Last year a UN International Fact-Finding Mission issued a report which claimed that the violations constituted crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Tun Khin stated that the Rohingya would not return to Burma without guarantees of justice, full citizenship and rights.

Kai Htang Lashi from the Kachin National Organisation, said that the situation in predominantly Christian Kachin state was “worse than ever before in Kachin history” and that human rights violations had “become the norm” for the Kachin people.

Kyaw Win, Director of Burma Human Rights Network, condemned the lack of international action in response to the widespread human rights violations observed in the country, saying: “Burma is heading towards fascism. Burma has committed genocide. Burma is committing genocide continuously, and no one is doing anything. This is the reality we are facing… The consequences [of insufficient international action] are very dangerous.”

Original press release here.

Read the report here.

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