Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), together with over ten other organisations working for human rights in Burma, today calls on the government of Burma to take urgent action to protect vulnerable religious minorities in the country, following two recent violent attacks on Muslims.
On 1 July, a mosque was destroyed by a mob in Hpakant township in Kachin State. On 23 June, a mob destroyed a mosque, a school and homes in a village in Waw township, Bago Division in central Burma. According to reports, security forces failed to prevent these attacks, and the government failed to respond to calls for action.
These attacks are the latest in an anti-Muslim campaign of hatred led by militant Buddhist nationalists over the past four years, and which has included violent attacks, hate speech and the introduction of discriminatory legislation that restricts religious conversions and inter-faith marriage.
In November 2015, just after the election which was overwhelmingly won by her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), Burma’s State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told the BBC that “hatred has no place” in the country and that her government would protect minorities and bring to justice those who incite hatred or violence. However, according to reports three members of the NLD participated in the attack in Bago Division.
The human rights organisations have called on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese government to ensure that the perpetrators of these two attacks are brought to justice, and that police are instructed to prevent further attacks. They also urge the government to adopt the principles and non-legislative proposals set out by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in his 2013 report on hate speech and the Rabat Plan of Action. Burma should also invite the new UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to visit the country at the earliest opportunity.
CSW’s East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers, said: “We are deeply shocked by these two incidents, and we are very concerned that the authorities appear to have failed to respond effectively to these serious acts of violence. We urge the government to take all necessary actions to prevent further violence, to end the climate of impunity that is prevailing, and to protect freedom of religion or belief for all. The government should speak out against hate speech, prosecute those responsible for inciting and perpetrating violence, and support initiatives to promote inter-faith reconciliation, dialogue and harmony. If this hatred and violence continues, it puts in jeopardy everything that has been achieved in the democratic transition in Burma, and creates a very dangerous situation. The international community must understand the potential gravity of this situation, and urge the Burmese government to act.”
Notes to Editors:
The organisations include:
Burma Campaign UK
Burma Action Ireland
The Swedish Burma Committee
The French-based Info Birmanie
Association Suisse Birmanie
The Society for Threatened Peoples
The Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
The European Rohingya Council
The Rohingya Committee in Ireland
The Burmese Muslim Association.
The Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence was adopted by experts including the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Rabat in October 2012.