The Burma Humanitarian Mission supports community based health-care and education projects that improve lives of the Burmese people. This is an article about religious freedom in Burma. Read more about the Burma Humanitarian Mission here.
The US State Department just released its 2011 report on international religious freedom. Although religious freedom in Burma does not directly impact the work of Burma Humanitarian Mission -- our humanitarian work operates independently of any religious or spiritual affiliation -- the religious freedom (or lack thereof) in Burma is important for us to pay attention to because the government of Burma does restrict religious practices as part of their overall repression of the people of Burma and the ethnic minorities in particular.
One of the things I love so much about Burma and what drew me to want to work there is that Burma is a religiously diverse country. In Karen State, where BHM largely operates, there are villages with Buddhists, Christians and Muslims alike -- and the people of these different religions all seemed to me to respect and tolerate one another.
I am concerned that the government’s attacks on Muslims in the west of the country are subverting the tolerance between people as a means to disempower the ethnic minorities (if Muslims are angry at Buddhists, they’re not necessarily going to work well together). This increase in violence could be used to pit the ethnic minorities against one another that could spiral toward even more violence, and undermine what little hope there is in Burma for freedom and self-determination for the ethnic minorities.
The report can be read on the US State Department’s website here.
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