On June 23, a violent group of people destroyed a mosque in Thaye Thamain village, Bago Region, and on July 1, a similar mob of people destroyed a Muslim prayer hall in Lone Khin village, Kachin State. In each of these cases, the authorities have failed to hold perpetrators accountable.
We, the undersigned organizations, call on the Government of Myanmar to protect the rights of religious minorities and ensure those responsible for the recent attacks on religious buildings are held to account.
The destruction of the mosque in Bago Region and prayer hall in Kachin State are not isolated events. A rising tide of religious intolerance has accompanied the opening of Myanmar to the outside world since 2012. Individuals and groups, some of whom identify with the Organization for the Protection of Race and Religion—a group of extremist Buddhist monks and nationalists commonly known as Ma Ba Tha—have targeted Muslims with violence and hate crimes, threats, and intimidation with impunity. Extremists have used hate speech, harassment, and intimidation against members of civil society, interfaith peace activists, and others who have stood up for freedom of religion and expression.
By failing to properly investigate or prosecute perpetrators of these crimes, authorities in Myanmar are fostering a culture of impunity that is inconsistent with Myanmar’s human rights obligations.
The people of Myanmar elected the National League for Democracy on the basis of its campaign to uphold rule of law and human rights for all. Today, we, the undersigned organizations, call on the Government of Myanmar to deliver on its promise.
We call on the Government of Myanmar to immediately conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the destruction of the Muslim places of worship in Lone Khin and Thaye Thamain villages and to ensure legal accountability for perpetrators.
We call upon the Government of Myanmar to take immediate action to ensure that all communities of faith in Myanmar are free to worship and practice their religion without fear or threats of violence.
We call upon all government officials in Myanmar to take every opportunity to reinforce the message that all peoples of Myanmar – regardless of ethnicity or religious affiliation – are subject to the same laws and entitled to the same protections.
We recognize the challenges faced by the government to properly address religious discrimination, but the government can and should do more to end the cycle of impunity for religiously-motivated crimes. Continued acts of violence against Muslims in Myanmar indicate that the failure to hold perpetrators accountable has led to more, not less, violence against Muslims.
We call on the Government of Myanmar to live up to the aspirations of a democratic, human-rights- respecting Myanmar.
Action Group on Monitoring Communal Tensions
All Kachin Youth Union
Burma Campaign UK
Center for Youth and Social Harmony
Civil Rights Defenders
Election Observers Network – Mandalay
Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
Myanmar Muslim Youth and Students
Network for Democracy and Development
Smile Education and Development Foundation
Women’s Peace Network Arakan
Yaung Zin Teachers Association
Yway Latt Yar Institute