HomeNewsReligious rights groups join calls for UN action on Myanmar

Religious rights groups join calls for UN action on Myanmar

The groups said the February coup has emboldened the military to further persecute Christians and Muslims

Religious rights groups this week joined an international coalition of about a hundred human rights organizations that called on the United Nations to “lead high-level efforts to increase diplomatic pressure on the junta” in Myanmar.

“Religious oppression is a longstanding issue in [Myanmar], and the coup has emboldened the military to further persecute Christians and Muslims living in the country,” read a letter sent by the organizations to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Initiated by the Christian Solidarity Worldwide and the Burma Human Rights Network, the petition noted the in recent months “hate speech against Christians has increased, and Christian figures have been murdered and arbitrarily detained by the military.”

The Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, took control of the country in February in a coup that deposed the elected National League for Democracy government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Various media and human rights reports said that more than 1,100 civilians, mostly activists and critics of the junta, have been killed since the February coup.

International Christian Concern (ICC) said in a statement that because 68 percent of Myanmar’s population is ethnic Burmese and 88 percent of the population is Buddhist, minority communities have become vulnerable target for Tatmadaw violence.

Many ethnic minority communities are non-Buddhist, including the majority Muslim Rohingya people and the Chin people who are majority Christian.

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ICC said in a statement that both groups have been heavily persecuted by the Tatmadaw, which launched a targeted campaign of violence against the Rohingya in 2017. The UN declared the attack on the Rohingya people a genocide.

“It is time to cut the economic lifeline of the illegal military regime while providing humanitarian lifelines to the people of [Myanmar],” read the letter to Guterres.

“With current UN and [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] efforts failing to achieve any progress, the office of the United Nations Secretary General has the authority to mobilize the international community to support his diplomatic efforts to achieve change in [Myanmar,]” it added.

Earlier, a bipartisan group of American legislators introduced a bill to sanction the Tatmadaw for violating human rights, authorize humanitarian funding, and promote democracy in Myanmar.

The proposed legislation authorizes targeted sanctions against those who helped stage the February 1 coup and who, in the months since, have repressed human rights.

The bill also creates a legal framework to support the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar, including the authorization to prohibit the import of precious gems from the country to the US and the creation of a new position at the Department of State to coordinate US and international efforts on Myanmar.

The bill also authorizes support for civil society and humanitarian efforts in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, “and the surrounding region” where a “severe humanitarian crisis” is developing as the Tatmadaw displaces hundreds of thousands of Burmese from their homes.

Jay Church, ICC’s advocacy manager for Southeast Asia, said the organization “is encouraged by the international condemnation of the Tatmadaw’s assault on democracy and human rights.”

He said the Tatmadaw’s history of violence against vulnerable minority communities is “despicable and had only intensified since they took complete control of the government in February.”

“It is incumbent upon the international community to push back against the Tatmadaw, support freedom in Myanmar, and ensure that a twisted and evil regime is not allowed to take over Myanmar,” said Church.

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