(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Chins denied religious freedom in Myanmar

An elderly woman and a church in western Chin State. Approximately 90 percent of all Chin are Christian
Courtesy of the CHRO

Religious freedom for Myanmar’s 500,000 ethnic Chins is being denied, says a new report by the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).

“Chins continue to face religious persecution,” Salai Za Uk Ling, programme director for CHRO, told IRIN. “Despite strong government reforms, these efforts have yet to be extended to religious freedom.”

According to the 5 September report entitled Threats to our Existence: Persecution of Ethnic Chin Christians in Burma, the mainly Christian Chins are under pressure to convert to Buddhism as a result of state policy. The mountainous Chin State, in western Myanmar, is also one of the country’s least developed regions.

“The government needs to recognize that a multi-ethnic Burma needs to be a multi-religious Burma,” said Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch. “This is a challenge the government has to face.” The 2012 US State Department’s International Commission on Religious Freedom categorizes Myanmar as a country of “particular concern”.

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