Chin delegation raised issue of religious freedom with Speaker of Burmese Parliament
26 February 2013 – Nay Pyi Taw: A delegation of the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) yesterday met with Thura Shwe Mann, the Speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw, the Burmese Lower House of Parliament, to convey their concerns regarding the ongoing violations of human rights in Chin State.
Meeting in Nay Pyi Taw, the CHRO delegation told the Speaker that despite the ongoing reforms, the Chin people are still concerned about the lack of religious freedom in Burma’s poorest State.
CHRO Executive Director Salai Bawi Lian told the Speaker, “We continue to be concerned about the ongoing human rights abuses, especially violations of religious freedom in Chin State. As Burma makes transition to democracy, we hope that the new Parliament will provide better protection for the human rights of Chin people.”
The three-member delegation presented the Speaker a copy of CHRO’s recent report ‘Threats to Our Existence’: Persecution of Ethnic Chin Christians in Burma, which details cases of violations of religious freedom against Chin Christians by State actors over the past many years.
Responding to the Chin concerns, Thura Shwe Mann said that he is aware of ‘past wrongs’ against the Chin.
“We should learn from past lessons to rectify the mistakes,” the Speaker told CHRO delegation.
According to CHRO, serious violations of religious freedom continue in Chin State even as the new government of President Thein Sein is undertaking reforms in many areas.
CHRO’s report shows that at least four large Christian crosses were destroyed in Chin State since the new government assumed power in March 2011, while all discriminatory restrictions on Christians under the previous regime remain a State policy, including restrictions against the construction of Christian churches.
CHRO delegation, composed of Salai Bawi Lian, Executive Director, Advocacy Director Rachel Fleming and Program Director Salai Za Uk Ling, is currently in Burma to conduct advocacy around freedom of religion or belief with a range of international, national and local stakeholders inside the country.