Monday, 25 May 2020

Burma along with seven other countries named as “countries of particular concern” on the International Religious Freedom Report of the US Department of State released on August 13. 

The US Department of State documents major developments with respect to religious freedom in 198 countries and territories from July-December 2010.

The Secretary of State designates as Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs) countries that have "engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom."

Secretary Clinton designated eight countries as CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan. The Secretary applied CPC sanctions to six of these: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, and Sudan.

The Burmese government refuses to recognize that the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, are Burmese citizens,” the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, Michael Posner, told reporters after the release of a report by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“The government continued to refuse to recognize the Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority as citizens and restricted their movement and marriage; Rohingyas also experienced severe legal, economic, educational, and social discrimination,” the report stated.

“Without citizenship status Rohingyas did not have access to secondary education in state-run schools. Those Muslim students from Rakhine State who completed high school were not permitted to travel outside the state to attend college or university. Authorities continued to bar Muslim university students who did not possess NRCs from graduating. These students were permitted to attend classes and sit for examinations, but they could not receive diplomas unless they claimed a "foreign" ethnic minority affiliation. Rohingyas also were unable to obtain employment in any civil service positions. Rohingya couples needed also to obtain government permission to marry.”

“Historic mosques in Mawlamyine, Mon State and Sittwe, Rakhine State, as well as other areas, continued to deteriorate because authorities would not allow routine maintenance. A number of restrictions were in place on the construction or renovation of mosques and religious schools in northern Rakhine State. In some parts of Rakhine State, authorities cordoned off mosques and forbade Muslims to worship in them. Border security forces continued to conduct arbitrary "inspections" of mosques in northern Rakhine State, demanding that mosque officials show permits to operate the mosques.”

Muslims in Rakhine State, particularly those of the Rohingya minority group, continued to experience the severest forms of legal, economic, educational, and social discrimination. There were reports that Buddhist physicians would not provide Muslims the endorsement required by the Ministry of Health that permits Muslims to travel outside Rakhine State to seek advanced medical treatment, according to the International Religious Freedom Report of the US Department of State

According to Clinton’s report, religious activities and organizations in Burma are subject to restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and assembly.

“Christian groups continued to struggle to obtain permission to repair places of worship or build new ones. In similarly, the regime continued to monitor and restrict Muslim activities and to restrict worship for other non-Buddhist minority groups,” the report said.
According to official statistics, almost 90 percent of the population practices Buddhism, 4 percent Christianity, and 4 percent Islam. These statistics almost certainly underestimated the non-Buddhist proportion of the population. Independent researchers placed the Muslim population at between 6 and 10 percent. A very small Jewish community is living in Rangoon.