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Country Update - Burma: April 2018

In November 2017, USCIRF Commissioners and staff traveled to Burma (also known as Myanmar) to meet with government officials, civil society, and religious representatives in Rangoon, Mandalay, and Naypyidaw. In January 2018, USCIRF staff traveled to Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to gather information on the situation of Rohingya Muslim refugees.

This document provides an overview of what USCIRF learned during these visits about the religious freedom challenges Burma faces and violations specific to Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State.

State Department Names the World’s Worst Violators of Religious Freedom

USCIRF welcomed the State Department’s naming of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) for severe religious freedom violations.  This group comprises nations that violate religious freedom in a “systematic, ongoing, egregious” manner and includes Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Policy Update- Flawed But Redeemable: ASEAN’S Record on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Throughout 2017, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has promoted its 50th year of existence, marked on August 8. The regional bloc comprising 10 countries has grown and integrated in ways hardly dreamed of five decades ago. But to this day, ASEAN lacks cohesion on human rights issues and, in particular, has a flawed record protecting freedom of religion or belief, both as a collective regional bloc and as individual Member States. The good news is that ASEAN possesses both the raw materials and the incentive to turn its record around.

Press Release: USCIRF Vice Chairwoman Kristina Arriaga Testifies Before the House Oversight Committee

Kristina Arriaga, the Vice Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), testified before the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Speaking on the “government’s role in protecting international religious freedom,” Arriaga advised the Members that “we ignore religious freedom violations at our peril and must address challenges proactively.”  

USCIRF Strongly Condemns Violence in Burma’s Rakhine State and Calls for Efforts to Protect Rohingya Muslims

USCIRF strongly condemns attacks on civilians and security forces in Burma’s Rakhine State.  Hundreds have been killed and approximately 300,000 Rohingya Muslims recently have fled to neighboring Bangladesh.  This number is expected to grow in the days and weeks ahead.  Burma’s security forces have razed entire villages, slaughtered families, and even placed landmines in the path of fleeing refugees, creating “a staggering humanitarian disaster,” according to USCIRF’s Chairman Daniel Mark.

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