British MPs Call for End to Religious Persecution in Burma
London, UK 5 February 2009: A group of British Parliamentarians led by John Bercow of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Burma is initiating an Early Day Motion on Burma to express deep concerns at recent clampdown by Burmese authorities on Christians in the former capital Rangoon. The motion, which is still open for signature, has already received 25 signatures from the British MPs.
According to reports, authorities have ordered at least 100 local Christian churches to shut down in Rangoon with threats of imprisonment for non-compliance. Human rights campaigners see it as the latest example of a regime being hostile to minority religions in Burma, describing the move as ‘an extremely worrying development.’
The motion calls for an independent investigation by the UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom and Belief, and urges the British government to raise the issue of violations of religious freedom with Burma’s ruling military junta. It also calls for the release of all political prisoners and unhindered humanitarian access to all parts of Burma.
A similar motion was tabled at the British House of Commons in January 2007 following the release of a report by UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) “Carrying the Cross: The military regime’s campaign of restriction, discrimination and persecution against Christians in Burma.” The report documented widespread and systematic violations of religious freedom by the military regime against non-Buddhist religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims.