Religious freedom still restricted in Burma: USCIRF
26 August 2013: The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said people from religious and ethnic minorities still express fears and face restrictions in Burma.
In its report of August 2013 following the recent visit to Burma, USCIRF noted religious freedom conditions remain problematic.
In addition, legal restrictions that were used in the past to curtail independent religious activities remain in place, the report said.
Scott Flipse, USCIRF Deputy Director for Policy and Research, made a trip to Burma visiting various parts of the country including Chin State to assess conditions of religious freedom on the ground under the new government.
Dr. Flipse met with religious leaders, elected government officials, representatives of civil society, international humanitarian organizations, political party leaders, and U.S. government officials.
Religious communities continue to have difficulties getting permissions to build, renovate, and conduct activities, particularly in Chin and Rakhine (Arakan) States, according to the report.
While welcoming a decrease of military involvement in daily governance in Chin State, USCIRF stressed some serious religious freedom violations including discrimination continue.
USCIRF said the issues of religion, ethnicity, and the protection of religious freedom are critical factors that will shape Burma’s democratic trajectory, its movement toward political reform, and its economic development.
Burmese government reforms remain fragile and reversible, and their long-term success will depend on building capacity for democratic governance, the rule of law, and protecting the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, according to the report.
The US government, UN and other donor nations are called to press the government of Burma to repeal and/or amend remaining laws that restrict the freedom of religion and belief.
Burma is currently designated by the State Department as a ‘country of particular concern’ for particularly severe violations of religious freedom.
Earlier this year, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) met with members of USCIRF during an advocacy trip to the US following its report on religious persecution against ethnic Chin Christian in Burma.#