Religion


Buddhists and Muslims in the central city of Meiktila were separated along faith lines after interreligious violence destroyed roughly 800 homes in 2013. Now residents have petitioned the government to allow them to reintegrate, but some remain skeptical about the neighbors’ prospects for peace.
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Burma’s highest religious authority has publicly rejected key planks of student demands for education reform, as the upper house announced on Tuesday that its Draft Law Committee would conduct hearings on the amendment of the National Education Law next month.
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The Burmese government recently came under fire for back-pedaling on a pledge to grant the country’s beleaguered Rohingya minority the right to vote. On February 12, the government announced the imminent suspension of all temporary ID cards held by over half a million Rohingya Muslims in western Burma, dashing hopes that they might be allowed to vote in Burma’s first general election in over fifty years, scheduled for the end of this year.
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In this teeming camp for displaced Rohingya Muslims in western Burma, it’s easy to overlook the Internet huts. The raw emotion they generate is much harder to ignore.
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Fifteen people have been jailed for their role in an attack on Muslim buildings during last year’s religious conflict in Mandalay, but a lawyer says the organisers of the attack remain at large.
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The controversy over the use of the term “Bengali” to describe Muslims in Rakhine State known as “Rohingya” seems set to continue following the second visit by UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee to Myanmar.
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Final arguments in the “Buddha bar” court case are expected in early March, with the bar’s New Zealand manager and two Myanmar nationals facing more than four years’ prison.
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On Feb. 11, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein rescinded a voting rights offer to the country’s Rohingya community amid intense pressure from far-right Buddhist groups. Last week hundreds of Buddhists took to the streets to denounce the continuation of a 2010 law that extended the right to vote to the country’s more than 1 million ethnic Rohingya. Myanmar does not regard the minority group as citizens.
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Myanmar’s decision to revoke temporary identification cards for minorities is raising tensions among its 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims, who have effectively been disenfranchised just days after parliament approved a law affirming their right to vote in a referendum.
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Despite democratic reforms and international pressure that have pushed Myanmar to improve its human rights record in recent years, religious freedom remains heavily constrained across the country.
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An eight-member delegation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), led by Malaysian former Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, wrapped up a two-day trip to Arakan State capital Sittwe on Thursday after visiting camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and meeting with local Arakanese officials and civil society groups.
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Rakhine Chief Minister U Maung Maung Ohn has told the state’s Emergency Coordination Centre that a plan to resettle about 170,000 people living in camps for the internally displaced has been delayed, ECC member U Than Tun told Mizzima on August 27.
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A curfew imposed in Mandalay following an outbreak of violence in July was lifted last week, but police officials said additional security forces would remain in the city.
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Myanmar’s downtrodden Rohingya Muslims have been denied citizenship, targeted in deadly sectarian violence and corralled into dirty camps without aid. To heap on the indignity, Myanmar’s government is pressuring foreign officials not to speak the group’s name, and the tactic appears to be working.
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The insular military junta that ruled until 2011 tightly restricted communications. Internet access was sluggish and expensive. Mobile SIM cards cost north of $1,000, limiting their use to a tiny slice of the population.
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Mandalay regional government said it will imminently lift a curfew that was imposed in seven townships across the city at the beginning of July following deadly communal mob violence.
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Girls and young women in brightly coloured dresses and laden with food parcels, many heavy with vermicelli pudding, dodge the rain in Meiktila.
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Leaders of a century-old organisation central to the country’s independence struggle are mired in conflict, leading to the expulsion of central executive committee members and the launching of an inquiry into alleged corruption.
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After the latest outbreak of interreligious violence between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Mandalay subsided, President U Thein Sein declared that the incident was incited by an unknown group whose motives remained unclear.
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Freedom of religion — a person’s right to worship as he or she chooses — is central to our national identity as Americans and a core objective of U.S. foreign policy. The right to believe in a religious creed or not, without fear of government interference, is essential to human dignity, robust civil society and sustainable democracy.
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