Religion


Burma’s Union Parliament has approved two bills that place restrictions on religious conversion and polygamy, the last of four controversial bills concerning race and religion to have sped through the legislature since late last year.
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In the second and final installment of The Irrawaddy’s interview with Professor Larry Diamond, the Stanford University democracy scholar discusses complaints about the leadership style of Aung San Suu Kyi, the rise of Ma Ba Tha and the efforts to negotiate a nationwide ceasefire agreement with Irrawaddy founding editor Aung Zaw.
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Burma’s Border Guard Police (BGP) arrested three Rohingya villagers in Maungdaw North, Arakan State and accused them of having Bangladeshi mobile phones and selling Bangladeshi SIM cards before extorting money from them said an ex-school teacher who wished to remain anonymous
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The Global Rohingya Centre opened an office on Sunday in Istanbul to provide support to Rohingya Muslims the Daily Sabah reported on 17 August.
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Burma’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs lashed out on Thursday against “a wide range of allegations” made by UN rights rapporteur Yanghee Lee.
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Burma’s Union Parliament is set to reconvene on Aug. 18 with two remaining “Protection Bills” expected to pass during the final legislative session before a Nov. 8 general election, according to lawmakers.
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Over half of the people rescued from human smuggling boats in May have been repatriated to Bangladesh, after a fourth group of migrants returned on August 10, local officials said.
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Bangladesh is to hold a census of hundreds of thousands of undocumented  Rohingya who have crossed into the country seeking refuge from persecution in neighbouring Myanmar.
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Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will raise the issue of the Rohingya Muslim genocide in Myanmar at the United Nations during its upcoming General Assembly session according to a report on the aaj.tv website on 11 August.
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How should we interpret the current state of anti-Muslim Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar that has emerged as one of the greatest threats to the country’s still-uncertain political transition? Compared with previous moments, the last few months have been relatively quiet, with no riots or bloodshed. U Wirathu’s summit meeting with Bodu Bala Sena leaders in Sri Lanka was cause for concern, but it is still unclear what cooperation might actually materialize between Buddhist partisans in the two countries. Large demonstrations in several cities in favor of four pieces of religious legislation proposed by monks that unfavorably target Muslims have kept the issue in the headlines, but given other pressing constitutional and legislative concerns, there seems to be no rush in Parliament to pass them.
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Bangladesh has taken initiatives to bring back 159 more nationals from Myanmar, caught when illegally trying to migrate to other South Asian countries on boats, bdnews24.com reported on 9 August.
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A flood relief committee established by prominent monk Sitagu Sayadaw has raised more than K325 milliion, including K80 million from ethnic Kokang and Palaung rebels.
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Indonesian police have rescued 45 Burmese fishermen, believed to be trafficking victims, from a hotel in central Jakarta where they were taken after traveling on fake documents, officials and the men said on Thursday.
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This article is part of “Southeast Asia: Refugees in Crisis,” an ongoing series  by The Diplomat for summer and fall 2015 featuring exclusive articles from scholars and practitioners tackling Southeast Asia’s ongoing refugee crisis. All articles in the series can be found here.
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The watchtowers and the high-security fence on the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh make this frontier look impregnable. Yet thousands of Rohingyas cross into Bangladesh each year. Rohingyas are a Muslim group whose persecution in their mainly Buddhist home state of Rakhine in Myanmar is long-standing but has recently escalated. The Myanmar government does not recognise Rohingyas, many of whose ancestors originally hailed from Bengal during British colonial days, as one of the country’s many official ethnic minorities. Denied nationality since 1982, they are in effect stateless. (more…)

From space, the fishing boats are just little white specks floating in a vast stretch of blue water off Papua New Guinea. But zoom in and there’s the critical evidence: Two trawlers loading slave-caught seafood onto a massive refrigerated cargo ship. (more…)

The Myaungmya Township branch of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) in Irrawaddy Division has filed a criminal complaint against two people, alleging that a meal donation ceremony was used as a forum for distributing materials that defamed party leader Aung San Suu Kyi. (more…)

Thailand on Friday said it would indict 72 people including a senior army officer over human trafficking after the plight of desperate Myanmar and Bangladesh migrants stranded at sea triggered an international outcry over the grim trade. (more…)

Burma’s Monogamy Act was passed in the lower house of parliament on Wednesday. The bill is the third instalment of the controversial ‘National Race and Religion Protection’ package lobbied by a nationalist coalition led by Buddhist monks known as the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, commonly known by its Burmese acronym Ma-Ba-Tha.
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Burma sent 155 migrants back to Bangladesh on Wednesday, more than a month after rescuing them from a boat stranded at sea.
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