Skip to main content

Burma: Religious Freedom

Volume 490: debated on Monday 23 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he (a) has had and (b) plans to have with the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief on reported violations of religious freedom in Burma, with particular reference to reported discrimination and persecution of Christians and Muslims. (264919)

We are concerned by reports that the Burmese authorities have closed places of worship for religious minorities and childcare centres run by Christian groups in Rangoon. We condemn the marginalisation or persecution of any community based on their religious beliefs or ethnic background. Although it makes the reported abuses no less serious, we believe that the persecution of religious minority groups by the Burmese authorities is often based on their ethnicity and perceived threat to security rather than their faith. We view the regime’s actions as part of a wider deterioration in the human rights situation in Burma.

The issue of religious freedom is within the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, which covers human rights and fundamental freedoms.

We hold regular discussions with Mr. Quintana and his team concerning the human rights abuses we believe to be taking place in Burma, and fully support his efforts. Our ambassador in Burma regularly raises the issue of human rights in his meetings with Burmese government officials.