Myanmar: Anti-conversion law passed, inciting wide condemnation

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Myanmar government

The parliament of Myanmar (Burma) has passed a law making religious conversion almost impossible.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom said in a statement, “Under the religious conversion bill, individuals choosing to adopt another faith confront special bureaucratic hurdles – including requiring applicants to provide extensive and intrusive personal information, to receive ‘approval,’ thereby creating a system that effectively would discourage and reject conversions.”

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Myanmar is home to 53.3 million including 89% Buddhist, 4% Muslim and 4% Christians. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) sternly condemned the passage by Burma’s Union Parliament of the religious conversion bill.

USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George said, “This measure is discriminatory. It is gravely wrong for the government to presume to dictate whether an individual can change their religion or belief. We call on President Thein Sein immediately to reject this ill-conceived measure.”

This is seen as one of the religious extremist movements led by a group of nationalist Buddhist monks, the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion which is also known as Ma Ba Tha, has chalked out such race and religion bills. The group has been pushing the government to take up these extremist bills ever since.

USCIRF has condemned these efforts saying that Burma’s government has failed to execute significant protections for religious and ethnic minorities. The government instead has implemented politically manoeuvred discriminatory measures, such as the interfaith marriage law.