Chris­tian group op­poses re­li­gious con­ver­sion bill

Mizzima Business Weekly - - AFFAIRS / NEWS -

A bill on re­li­gious con­ver­sion ap­proved by the Amyotha Hlut­taw last week would be a ma­jor set­back to hu­man rights in Myan­mar if passed into law, Bri­tain-based Chris­tian Sol­i­dar­ity World­wide said in a state­ment on Jan­uary 23.

The bill, ap­proved by the up­per house on Jan­uary 19, would re­quire those seek­ing to change their reli­gion to re­quest per­mis­sion from 11-mem­ber pan­els com­pris­ing of­fi­cials re­spon­si­ble for re­li­gious af­fairs, im­mi­gra­tion, women's af­fairs and ed­u­ca­tion.

It is one of four so-called “pro­tec­tion of reli­gion” laws due to be con­sid­ered by par­lia­ment.

“The pro­posed law on re­li­gious con­ver­sion would be a ma­jor set­back for re­li­gious free­dom and hu­man rights in Burma,” the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Chris­tian Sol­i­dar­ity World­wide, Mr Mervyn Thomas, said in the state­ment.

UN spe­cial rap­por­teur on hu­man rights in Myan­mar Yanghee Lee high­lighted the “sig­nif­i­cant hu­man rights con­cerns” over the pro­posed laws on re­li­gious con­ver­sions and in­ter­faith mar­riage in a state­ment re­leased dur­ing her visit to the coun­try ear­lier this month.

In a state­ment on Jan­uary 22, the US Com­mis­sion on In­ter­na­tional Re­li­gious Free­dom said the leg­is­la­tion was “ir­repara­bly flawed” and risked fu­elling vi­o­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion against re­li­gious mi­nori­ties.

The com­mis­sion's chair­man, Mr Robert Ge­orge, said last June that the re­li­gious con­ver­sion law “had no place in the 21st cen­tury”. [Mizzima]

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