Burmese Christians highlight religious persecution

A human rights group has documented more than 40 separate incidents of torture or ill-treatment targeted at Chin Christians on the basis of ethnicity and religion. Photo:
A human rights group has documented more than 40 separate incidents of torture or ill-treatment targeted at Chin Christians on the basis of ethnicity and religion. Photo:
By on September 11, 2012
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A delegation of ethnic Chin activists from Burma is visiting London this week to highlight violations of religious freedom in their country, according to an announcement from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a U.K.-based organization that advocates for religious freedom and human rights.

The group from the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) were scheduled to present a report, “Threats to Our Existence: Persecution of Ethnic Chin Christians in Burma,” at a meeting in the House of Commons on September 11 organized by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma, CSW said.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, who visited the Chin people on the India-Burma border with CSW in 2008, was scheduled to meet with the delegation. The group was also set to brief individual MPs and  Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials. Burma is also known as Myanmar.

The report was released in Bangkok last week. It details the destruction of thirteen large Christian crosses, the construction of fifteen Buddhist pagodas or monasteries by authorities using Chin Christians as forced labour, and more than 40 separate incidents of torture or ill-treatment targeted at Chin on the dual basis of ethnicity and religion.

The report also details ongoing “restrictions on constructing and renovating Christian infrastructure, destruction of Christian crosses, violations of freedom of religious assembly, and threats, intimidation, and harassment of pastors and missionaries” under the current government.

CHRO outlines concerns about the government’s training schools, in which Chin Christian youth  are prevented from practicing Christianity and face coercion to convert to Buddhism.

The report urges the government to lift all restrictive and discriminatory measures placed on Christian activity, end the policy of forced assimilation and other measures that amount to ethnic and religious persecution, invite the U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to visit Burma, and calls for the abolition of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which has been implicated in human rights violations.

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