Myanmar Religious DemographicsBurma Religious Demography
Recent constitution, proclaimed in 1974, authorised both legal and judicial limitations on religious liberty, which states that "the nation's race has the liberty to proclaim their faith, provided that the use of such liberty does not violate the law or the common interest. "Most followers of all faiths who have been enrolled with the government are generally free to adore at will, but the government has restricted certain religious activity and often misused the right to religious liberty.
During the reporting year, the situation of reduced compliance with religious freedoms has not changed. The government generally invaded or supervised the gatherings and activity of practically all organisations, as well as religious organisations, through its ubiquitous domestic safety machinery. In some areas of ancestral minorities, it has inevitably encouraged Buddhism in relation to other faiths, especially among members of ancestral minorities.
There are growing problems for religious groups to obtain permits to construct new worship centers, while Muslims say they are fundamentally prohibited from building new worship centers anywhere in the state. Also the antimuslim force increased strongly in the reporting year, whereby some of them were silently backed, assisted or even incited by the government.
Tension exists between the Buddhaist minority and the Catholic and Moslem minority groups, mainly due to the preference of their governments in the colonies and today. Significant increases in anti-Muslim violent events have significantly exacerbated tension between the Buddhaist and Moslem community in the first six-month period of 2001, as was the case in the past when such violent events arose.
A priority goal of the US administration's policies towards Burma since 1988 has been to foster compliance with fundamental freedoms, in particular the right to religious freedoms. Buddha civilizations, upwards of 300,000 people, about 2 per cent of the total population of male Buddhists, rely solely on lay charity for their needs, which includes everyday nutrition.
A much smaller number of monks also belong to the ecclesiastical community. They include Christian minority groups (mostly Baptists and some Catholics and Anglicans), Muslims (mostly Sunnis), Hindus and practicians of ancient China and tribal faiths. It is an ethnic nation and there is some connection between race and faith.
Theravadan Buddhism is the predominant religious group among the Burmese people and the Shan and Mon minority peoples to the east and south. There is also a certain connection between the religious and classroom in much of the land, as non-Buddhists are better trained in sacred affairs, more urbanised and more entrepreneurial than the Buddhaist population.
Christendom is the predominant religious denomination among the Kachin peoples of the North and the Chin and Naga peoples of the West area ( "some of whom practise tribal religions"); it is also widely spread among the Karen and Karenni peoples of the South and East.
China's ethnical minority groups practise Tibetan traditions. Tradicional tribal faiths are widely practised among smaller tribal groups in the north, and practises derived from these tribal faiths are largely maintained in common buddhistic rites, especially in the countryside. Recent constitution, proclaimed in 1974, allowed both legal and religious freedoms to be restricted administratively, which states that "the nation's race has the liberty to confess their faith, provided that the use of such liberty does not violate the law or the state.
" While most supporters of all faiths who had been enrolled with the agencies generally had the right to pray at their own discretion, the administration has restricted certain religious activity and often misused the right to religious liberty. Practically all organisations must be officially enrolled in the state. While there is a policy of governance that excludes "real" religious organisations from registering, in reality only organisations that are either licensed or licensed can buy or dispose of properties or open banking account, prompting most religious organisations to do so.
Religive organisations are registered with the Ministry of the Interior with the consent of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Among the formal feasts are some religious and Muslim feasts and several Theravada Buddhist feasts. Allegedly, the government fosters reciprocal comprehension among practicians of different faiths. Yangon's government runs a multi-religious memorial in the city.
The government in 1998 declared that it would establish a new place for several religions in a part of the country it had regained in 1997 by moving Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christians to Rangoon's Kyandaw neighborhoods. By the end of the reporting year, the work was still in progress, but a conflict between the government and religious groups over the inclusion of a crucifix in the work was one of several unsolved barriers.
Many of the areas of national minorities have been support centres for military opposition to the government since the country's 1948 victory. Though the government has been negotiating ceasefire deals with most African groups since 1989, there are still Shan, Karen and Karenni uprisings, and a Chin uprising has been going on since the end of the 1980s.
Consecutive civil and military regimes have tend to see religious liberty in the framework of the threat to the nation's unification. It is the administration that runs, invades or generally oversees the gatherings and activity of practically all organisations, as well as religious organisations. Also religious activites and organisations of all denominations are subjected to far-reaching state limitations of free speech and the right of club.
In addition, the government submits all published material, such as religious literature, to scrutiny and censure. In general, the government forbids the holding of open-air gatherings, of more than five people, even religious gatherings. It also empowered junta leaders to sue the Buddhaist Clergy in the army courts for "activities that are incompatible and harmful to Buddhism" and issued a codex of behavior to the same.
It is said that in 1999 the Mandalay Provincial Commandant gave an order forbidding buddhistic clergymen to depart from their communities without first issuing their ID documents and receiving prior approval in writing from the municipal authority. People other than the Buddha School were generally not subjected to such strict limitations of motion.
In the 1990s, the government made increasing strides to connect with Buddhism in order to strengthen its own legality. Government has released textbooks on Buddhism religious education. In the mid-1990s, the government financed the building of the International Theravada Buddhaist Missionary University (ITBMU) in Rangoon, which opened in December 1998.
Government has been following the activity of members of all faiths, Buddhism included, also because priests and parishioners have become involved in politics in the past. 1995 the army government banned the priestly ordaining of a member of a religious group, and this action remained in force.
In addition, the government discriminated against members of minoritarian faiths by limiting the education, proselytisation and development of religious minorities. In the mid-1960s, when they drove out almost all expatriate missions and nationalised all privately owned clinics and clinics that were large and mainly linked to religious organisations, there was a great number of Christians among some of the ethnical groups (e.g. the Karen and Kachin) against whom the military has been fighting for centuries, although groups practicing Buddhism (e.g. the Shan) have also led many of the national uprisings.
It is not known that the authorities have compensated for these large-scale seizures. Nonetheless, the administration has permitted some older Catholics and monks who had already worked in the land before gaining sovereignty to work. Sometimes religious groups, such as Catholics and Protestants, introduce overseas ministers and religious labourers as tourist, but take care that their activity is not seen as proselytist by the state.
A number of pre-1962 Catholic seminars have also been continuing, but during the reporting year, the army forces have been forcing the closure of a Bible college that had been in Tamu Township in Sagaing Division since 1976. There are growing problems for religious groups to obtain permits to construct new worship centers, while Muslims say they are fundamentally prohibited from building new worship centers anywhere in the state.
It is not known that buddhistic groups had similar problems to obtain permits to construct a pagoda or monastery. The Rangoon administration has ordered various religious groups to call their places of worship a" community center" rather than a" church. "In most areas of the countryside, in some cases it has been possible for small church and mosque building groups from Christians and Muslims to take action in side roads or other unobtrusive places, but more and more often only on the basis of informally and non-formally agreed actions by municipal governments.
This group reports that official applications are subject to long waiting periods and are generally rejected, especially for Muslims. Unrestricted authorisation by one of the municipalities, however, is creating a weak legislative position. During the reporting year, for example, cases were mentioned in which the regional government or circumstances change and the building permit is suddenly revoked and the building process is stopped.
From the 1960s, it has been difficult for religious groups, both Christians and Muslims, to import religious music. Religive and censor religious publication, such as worldly. Bible translation into tribal tongues cannot be legitimately imposed, although Bibles can be localized and published in tribal tongues with government approval.
Against the rumours that the Bibles were broken during the reporting year, the agencies notified a religious group that the Bibles were stored in Rangoon. A religious group reported that they had been granted approval by the goverment to bring in 2,000 English-language Bibles, the first such imports in 20 years; at the end of the reporting year, however, the Bibles had not yet been brought in.
Most annoying limitation is a listing of over 100 forbidden words that the sensors in either Chinese or Moslem literatures would not allow, because they are supposedly concepts of the native tongue that have long been used in Buddhist literatures. Much of these words have been used and adopted by some Christians and Muslims in the land since then.
Organisations that have translated and published non-Buddhist religious writings appeal to these limitations. According to reportedly, they managed to reduce the number of forbidden words to about 12, but the problem was still open at the end of the reporting year. Even though holding non-censored works is a criminal offence for which people have been detained and persecuted in the past, there have been no records of arrest or persecution for possessing traditionally religious writing in recent years.
There was only one non-Buddhist who ministered in government, and the same individual, a brush general, is the only non-Buddhist known to have had the status of a standard-bearer in the army in the 1990s. They are discouraging Muslims from serving in the army, and their leaders are encouraging Christians or Muslims who are seeking promotions beyond the mid-range to turn to Buddhism.
Most Rohingyas are denied nationality by the Rohingyas on the ground that their forefathers did not live in the land at the beginning of Britain's settlement, as demanded by the very strict nationality laws. Muslim Rohingya minorities returned to the region complaining about strict state constraints on their capacity to move and their capacity to operate economically.
You have to get the approval of the local authority if you want to go out of your town. Usually the Rohingya Muslims are not permitted by the law to go to Rangoon, but sometimes they can be bribed for this. To this end, the administration permitted members of all religious groups to form and sustain ties with fellow believers in other lands and to go abroad for religious ends, except for restricted customs and visas, currency control and state surveillance, which covers all intentional activity for any cause.
Occasionally, the regime accelerated its cumbersome process of issuing passports to Muslims who made the Hajj. Sometimes religious denomination is indicated on the identity documents that the people and constant inhabitants of the land must have with them at all time. It does not appear that there are any uniform standards as to whether a person's religious beliefs are stated on their identity document.
Civilians are also obliged to indicate their religious beliefs on some formal request form, e.g. on a passport (which has its own "field" for religious and ethnicity). Some of the kids can drop out of Buddhist education, and sometimes in practise, but sometimes the government is also hard on them.
They have tried to stop Chinese Christians from practising their religions. Army troops settled their encampments again and again in the places of church and cemeteries that had been demolished to establish these cemeteries. Native Christians were compelled to help with these desecrations. From the early 1990s, the police have been forcing village people to demolish crucifixes that had been built outside China's Christians communities.
There have also been reports that Captain Khin Maung Myint in July 2000 violently ordered the closing of all of Tamu's church Christendom school. It is said that the police have censored preaching by Christians. Proselytisation of religious Christianity has been banned on several occasions by governing bodies. From 1990, with the support of Buddhist missionary Buddhist friars from the mountain regions, governments and safety agencies tried to stop the conversion of chinese Christians to chinese tribal people.
From 1990, Chinese governments and law enforcement agencies have been promoting Buddhism through Christianity in many and often compelling ways among the Chinese people. Municipal governments pledged to make regular donations to individual and household supporters who convert to Buddhism. According to reports, the agencies delivered low-cost raw materials to the Buddhist people, gave additional food to the Buddhist people on Sunday morning while the Christians visited the churches, and freed the conversions from hard labour.
Military personnel headed by officials interrupted repeated church ceremonies and ceremonies. Kinnchristen were compelled to "donate" work to purify and preserve Buddha chests. Specifically, it was said that the army no longer carries food with it, but rather thrives on the village people when someone refused to help, even though the village people were supposedly permitted to buy themselves out of this work.
Chinese authorities ordered Chins to participate in preaching by recently arriving buddhistic friars who degraded Christianity. Furthermore, it was said during the reporting year that many Christians in China are under pressure and some are compelled to visit the monastic schools and buddhistic convents and are then urged to conversion to Buddhism.
Chinese Christian kids were segregated from their families by Chinese municipal authorities under the misguided pretext of giving them free worldly upbringing and permitting them to practise their own religions, while the kids were indeed housed in Buddhist convents, where they were taught and convert to Buddhism without the knowing or approval of their families.
After all, since 1990 governments and safety agencies with the support of Buddhist missionaries from the mountain regions have tried to force Kinne, and this includes the participation of youngsters, into Theravada Buddhism. During the reporting year, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization, Lieutenant Colonel Biak To was released from his armed force during the reporting year and was punished with a fine; supposedly, his armies and policemen were discriminating against him because of his religious (Christian) and ethnical (Chinese) identities.
Unaffirmed accounts of state violations of the religious freedoms of Christians among the Naga people in the far north-west of the state. This report suggests that the government tried to persuade the members of the Naga to turn to Buddhism by means similar to the conversion of the members of the chin to Buddhism.
As a result, it is less certain that the Naga are aware of the state of religious liberty. In 1999, the first massive expulsion of Naga religious fugitives from the land took place; more than 1,000 Christians of the Naga tribe are said to have escaped from the state. The Naga allegedly asserted that the military and Buddhist friars tried to compel them to conversion to Buddhism and compelled them to shut down church in their communities, and then profaned the Church.
Trustworthy accounts exist that the SPDC agencies have systematicly oppressed and displaced Muslims to insulate them in certain areas. The Rakhine Muslims, for example, were compelled to spend material, funds and resources for building for the Buddha School. In order to make sure that the mausoleums are not reconstructed, they were substituted by administrative structures, convents and buddhistic churches.
In Rakhine, the police have also passed a decree that the death of a Muslim will be punishable by a minimum of three months, while the punishment for a Muslim who beats a Buddhist will be three years. One area had already seen at least 10 of the 40 mausoleums destined for demolition demolished by it.
As a rule, the mausoleums are little more than straw houses and were built by village dwellers who, due to severe travelling regulations for Muslims, had difficulties getting into the mausoleums of neighbouring cities. The number of antimuslim acts of force in the reporting year increased sharply.
The government has since increased severe limits on Muslims in the area, which basically prevent Muslims from traveling between the Sittwe and other cities in the area. A non-confirmed statement states that seven Iraqi leaders were imprisoned for instigating the unrest for 7 to 12 years in March or early April 2001.
Whilst there is no straightforward proof associating the administration with these outrages against Muslims, there are accounts that the perpetrators were either army or USDA-staff. It is also reported that Kyrgyzstan' Kyrgyzstan' political leaders have been warning Islamic leaders of the attack and warning them not to take retaliatory measures to prevent an escalation of terror.
Whilst the details of how these assaults began and who conducted them can never be fully recorded, it seems that the government was at best very hesitant to save Muslims and their belongings from being destroyed. In the reporting year, violent conflict between the Buddhist and Islamic societies intensified considerably (see Section III).
A large number of the 21,000 Rohingya Muslims who remained in Bangladesh for refugees refuse to come back to Burma because they fear they might be violating people' s dignity, even religiously. UNHCR said that the agencies have worked together to investigate individual cases of re-abuse of returned people. Pro-democratic government continues to keep Buddhist friars from demanding democratic and pro-democratic dialogue.
Throughout the reporting year, the government's attempts to monitor these abbeys include expulsion of travellers, arrest, pressure upon Tibetan leaders, "undisciplined monks", and a ban on certain abbeys from welcoming members of parties as accommodation migrants. Over 100 convicts were detained in the 1990s for support for democracies and fundamental freedoms, but about half of them were freed, and there is no accurate estimation of the number of Tibetan clerics in jails or labour camps by the end of the reporting year.
According to a February 2000 Young Buddhist Monk Union document endorsing policy action, in May or June 2001 the governing bodies are said to have detained some 40 Buddhist Monk Union members. Until the end of the reporting year, the detainees' legal situation was not known. This is what the administration refers to as "voluntary donations" and requires both Buddhists and non-Buddhists to do so.
During the reporting year, however, no such activities were known. Goverment constraints on language, media, gathering and motion, which include conducting foreign diplomacy, make it hard to obtain timely and precise information on Burma's humanitarian and religious freedoms. From 1990, with the support of Buddhist missionary Buddhist friars from the mountain regions, governments and safety agencies tried to persuade Kinne, among them youngsters, to go to Theravada Buddhism.
Predominantly because of the privileged government action, both in recruitment and in other areas, in practise (if not in law) for both non-Buddhists during Britain's Colonisation and Buddhism since IPA. The circulation of the volume seems to have grown during the reporting year, although it is not clear who published it.
There have been conflicts between the DKBA and the Karen National Union (KNU) since 1994, when the Progouvernational Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) was inaugurated. Though the DKBA is reported to include some Christians, and there are many Buddhists in the KNU, the military clash between the two Karen groups has taken on powerful religious traits.
In the mid-1990s it is said to have been customary to torturing and killing Christians when they declined to turn to Buddhism, but DKBA treatments of Christians are said to have significantly enhanced after the DKBA established itself to manage the areas it had captured. A priority goal of the US administration's policies towards Burma since 1988 has been to foster compliance with fundamental freedoms, in particular the right to religious freedoms.
In addition, the US administration has discontinued all Overseas Private Investments Corporation (OPIC) overseas finance activities to assist US investments in Burma, stopped actively promoting Burma trading and stopped issuing visa to senior Burmese civil servants and their immediate families. She has also prohibited new investments by US companies in Burma, refused any backing from governmental authorities and called on other country administrations to take similar measures.
US government proactively endorsed the International Labour Organization (ILO) November 2000 ruling to impose penalties on the Burmese government on the basis of the continuing system ic use of hard labour for a variety of civil and civilian use. As part of its general dialogue and policies to promote religious freedoms, the U.S. Embassy has encouraged religious freedoms.
These included a wide range of contact with Burma's political authorities, individuals, academics, non-governmental figures, as well as members of the world' s press and industry. Workers of the Botschaft have frequently spoken with heads of Buddhist, Christian and Muslim religious groups, faculty members of theological colleges and other religiously related organisations and NGOs in their reports and diplomatic work.