WASHINGTON, DC -- The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today called on the U.S. government and the international community to pursue strong policy responses, including the continued use of targeted sanctions, to hold accountable members of Burma’s military, security forces, and some nonstate actors for severe human rights and religious freedom violations against Burma’s Rohingya Muslims and other religious and ethnic communities.
Asylum And Refugees
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today applauded the U.S. Congress’s unanimous vote to approve H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act, which was introduced in 2017 by Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA).
It has been more than a year since Burmese authorities began a brutal campaign terrorizing, sexually assaulting, and killing mainly Rohingya Muslims, leaving burned villages and corpses in their wake; more than a year since more than 700,000 fled across the border to Bangladesh. Despised for being both ethnically and religiously different, Rohingya Muslims are considered by Burma's military and many of the majority Buddhist population as outsiders illegally residing in the country with the goal of spreading Islam across the land.
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.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is concerned by recent reports that roughly 100 members of Iranian religious minorities, who sought resettlement to the United States, have been denied asylum and could be returned to Iran where they may face discrimination and persecution.The refugees, most of whom are reported to be Assyrian or Armenian Christians, were seeking refuge in the United States under the Lautenberg Amendment. The Lautenberg Amendment, enacted in 1990, was expanded in 2004 to allow members of Iranian religious minorities, including Christians, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, and others, to apply for refugee status under a special category in recognition of their status as persecuted minorities.
The report documents ASEAN’s and the Member States’ approaches to the freedom of religion or belief, underscores the religious freedom-related challenges in the region that transcend country borders, and emphasizes the strategic importance of robust U.S. engagement on these issues with ASEAN as a collective and the 10 individual Member States.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) urges the U.S. government to continue its efforts to resettle refugees fleeing conflict and persecution.