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Religion Clause: BBC News reported yesterday that a court in Myanmar has found the manager of the upscale VGastro Bar in Yangon (a New Zealander), along with the bar’s owner and a colleague (both Burmese), guilty of intentionally plotting to insult religious belief by uploading to Facebook an ad that depicted a psychedelic mock-up of the Buddha wearing DJ headphones.
BBC: A New Zealander and two Burmese men have been found guilty of insulting religion in Myanmar over a poster promoting a drinks event depicting Buddha with headphones.
Independent Catholic News: Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has expressed profound concern that a new law restricting religious conversions, passed earlier this week by the upper house of Burma’s parliament, would be a major setback for religious freedom and human rights in the country.
The Washington Post: A powerful group of Buddhist nationalist lobbyists [The Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, locally referred to as Ma Ba Tha] has planned nationwide rallies in support of a controversial bill that some say would effectively outlaw interfaith marriage in Burma….
CNN: Since 1999, the U.S. State Department has tracked the world’s worst abusers of religious rights. As the most recent report notes, it has never lacked for material. Persecutions of people of faith are rising across the globe.
Religion Clause Blog: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom yesterday issued the findings of a staff visit to Burma in May. In a Policy Brief titled Burna: Implications of Religious and Ethnic Violence,the report concluded in part . . .
Catholic Culture: The US State Department has called upon Myanmar (Burma) to end its policy of limiting some Muslim families to two children.
Religion Clause Blog: As part of his trip to Burma (Myanmar), President Obama spoke today at the University of Yangon in Rangoon. (Full text of speech.) His speech included a plea for the country to deal with the ethnic-religious violence faced by the Rohingya Muslim minority, and the persecution of ethnic minority Chin Christians in Kachin state . . .
Religion Clause Blog: On Saturday, President Obama leaves on a 4 day trip to Thailand, Burma and Cambodia. (USA Today). On Wednesday, in advance of the trip, Katrina Lantos Swett, Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom wrote the President urging him to raise with Burma issues of religious freedom and ethnic and communal violence.
TheStar.com: At least 56 people were killed and nearly 2,000 homes destroyed in the latest outbreak of ethnic violence in western Burma, a government official said Thursday. The 25 men and 31 women were reported dead in four Rakhine state townships in violence between the Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities that re-erupted Sunday, local government spokesman Win Myaing said.
AP: The conflict pitting ethnic Rakhine Buddhists against stateless Rohingya Muslims in coastal Rakhine state marks some of the worst sectarian unrest recorded in Myanmar in years.
Religion Clause Blog: Reuters reports today on Buddhist-Muslim violence that broke out over the weekend in the state ofRakhine in Myanmar (Burma). At least 8 people have been killed as rival Buddhist and Muslim mobs torch large numbers of houses.
AP: Myanmar, run by a cabal of generals, squelched any attempt at democratic change and kept the country’s most popular figure under strict house arrest for years. North Korea, run by the same family as a Stalinist dictatorship since the 1940s, simply sealed itself off.
Christian Science Monitor: State Department’s annual report on human rights around the world also notes the important role that technology, the Internet, and social media play in advancing individual freedoms.
The Persecution Times: Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has received a report from sources inside Kachin State, Burma alleging that soldiers from the Burma Army shot at worshipers in a church in Wai Maw Township two days ago.
OneNewsNow.com: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the Obama administration’s release of the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, and the Commission is urging the U.S. government to increase action to promote freedom of religion or belief. Burma, Eritrea, China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan are eight “countries of particular concern,” but USCIRF spokesperson Elizabeth Cassidy says her group thinks the list is incomplete . . .
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released its 2011 Annual Report and recommended that the Secretary of State name the following nations “countries of particular concern” or CPCs: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
Doug Bandow writing at The Center for Vision & Values: “There is more than enough bad news to fill the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s latest annual report. Worst of all were the conditions in 13 ‘countries of particular concern.’”
OneNewsNow: “In an effort to raise awareness about the 24/7 operation to seek out, tend to, and spotlight Christians who are being intimidated, raped, killed and driven from their homes, CFI recently sponsored a trip for members of a popular Irish Christian band called Bluetree. The journey was caught on video to produce the DVD, Banned in Burma, which is available on the CFI’s website.”
Eurasia Review: “Suspension of passports for monks in Burma has begun amid suggestions that the Burmese government is attempting to block the influential community from going abroad in the run-up to elections.”
Mission Network News: “The Karen people of Burma have been fighting for independence for over 60 years. Far from gaining freedom, though, the Karen people have instead become the victims of massive genocide. Many of the Karen people are Christians, and it has become apparent that the ethnic cleansing taking place at the hands of the Burmese government is a direct attack against Christians. Patrick Klein of Vision Beyond Borders says once the military has finished off the Christians, they will likely move on to Buddhists.”
Compass Direct News: “Mungpi Suangtak, assistant editor of a New Delhi-based news agency run by exiled Burmese journalists, the Mizzima News, said the Burmese junta has ‘one of the world’s worst human rights records’ and will ‘definitely’ attack religious and ethnic minorities more forcefully in the run-up to the election.”
The Christian Post: “The Chin people, Christians living in the remote mountains of northwestern Myanmar, are subject to forced labor, torture, extrajudicial killings and religious persecution by the country’s military regime, a human rights group said Wednesday . . . …
The Religion Clause Blog reports: “In the heavily Buddhist country of Burma, both Christians and Muslims were ordered last week to stop holding religious services in residential apartments . . . “
“We don’t want regular use of contraception disrupted. An emergency usually damages the health system, so people don’t have access to condoms and contraceptives,” said UNFPA aid advisor Chaiyos Kunanusont.