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Myanmar: Violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief since the coup d’état in Myanmar

October 28th, 2022  •  Author:   International Commission of Jurists  •  3 minute read
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Today, on International Religious Freedom Day, 27 October 2022, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) published a new report entitled: “Violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief since the coup d’état in Myanmar”, which examines the situation of the right to freedom of religion or belief in Myanmar since Military coup.

Since the coup d’état on 1 February 2021, the military has been responsible for human rights violations on a large scale,[1] including unlawful killings, torture and other ill treatment and arbitrary detentions. The rights to freedom of assembly, movement, information and speech have also been severely curtailed. Less well-reported have been the Tatmadaw’s (i.e., Myanmar military) systematic violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief, particularly targeting members of Myanmar’s sizeable religious minorities despite the fact that some of these violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief have not only increased drastically, but also that they could amount to war crimes under international law.

In the aftermath of the coup, the military initially focused on limiting the rights to freedom of expression and information by suppressing the media and internet access. Since then, massive arrests of journalists, activists, human rights defenders and internet shutdown have systematically curtailed freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and media freedom. The military’s focus has also widened to include suppression of the right to freedom of religion or belief with raids and attacks on places of worship, leading to damage and destruction. The military has also set up military encampments in places of worship. There have also been reports of arrests of religious leaders, who were later prohibited from practising their religion while in detention.

This report presents an overview of the violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief that have taken place from 1 February 2021 until 30 May 2022. These include:

  • Incidents of violence against religious leaders and religious minority communities;
  • Raids on places of worship;
  • The use of religious sites as military camps;
  • The destruction of religious buildings and shrines;
  • The restrictions of movement and denied citizenship for Rohingya
  • The emergence of new forms of nationalism after the coup

In light of these serious concerns, the report offers a number of recommendations, particularly to the UN, and International Community with a view to addressing the violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief in the country.

This report is part of a series of ICJ publications on the right to freedom of religion or belief.

[1] “Human rights ‘catastrophe’ in Myanmar: UN calls for urgent action”, accessed at: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/09/1100922.


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