– Rohingya Muslims in Burma, as well as Christians, face continued persecution, destruction of homes and places of worship, and threats to their lives, human rights organizations are warning.
Throughout the country’s history, Burmese officials have maintained control “through a divide and rule strategy, pitting Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims against each other,” said Father Thomas Reese, SJ, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in a December 13 discussion in Washington, D.C.
“The plight of both Rohingya Muslims and Christians results from successive governments that have both perpetuated and supported religious violations,” Reese continued. “It’s time for Burma to defend religious freedom,” he urged.
Two reports by the organization highlight the abuses suffered by religious minorities in Burma, also known as Myanmar, as well as by practitioners of the majority Buddhist religion who dissent from the mainline practice or government positions.
Christians in the country face discrimination, forced conversions, violence and desecration of churches and Christian communities says the USCIRF Report “Hidden Plight: Christian Minorities in Burma.”
Meanwhile, according to “Suspended in Time: The Ongoing Persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Burma,” members of the Muslim ethnic group are denied basic human rights like food, shelter, water, citizenship, or the ability to move.
The reports come days after international human rights organization Human Rights Watch released an analysis of images taken of a Rohingya village in Rakhine state, which it says link the Burmese army to the arson of the village.