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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Local Authorities in Burma’s Kachin State Issue New Regulations Restricting Religious Activity

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SURREY, ENGLAND (ANS) -- Burmese authorities are imposing new restrictions on religious activities in Kachin State.

According to information received by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), on Oct. 14 the Chairman of Maw Wan Ward in Phakant Township, Kachin State sent a letter to local churches, titled “Concerning Christians conducting cultural training.”

CSW said the letter refers to an order by the General Township Administration Department. It requires Christians in Phakant Township to submit a request at least 15 days in advance for permission to conduct “short-term Bible study, Bible study, Sunday school, reading the Bible, fasting prayer, Seasonal Bible study and Rosary of the Virgin Mary Prayer.”

CSW said a request for permission must be accompanied by recommendations from other departments, and must be submitted to the Township Administration Office.

Last week, CSW obtained a copy of the document in Burmese, and a translation. Churches in Burma are already required to obtain permission for any events other than Sunday services, but this new regulation imposes further severe restrictions.

CSW's East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said in a news release, “For many years, successive Burmese regimes have suppressed freedom of religion and imposed serious restrictions on Christians and other religious minorities. Christians and Muslims in particular have been the target of discrimination and persecution.

Rogers continued, “It appears that despite changes in rhetoric, there has been no change of attitude, particularly at a local level, on the part of Burmese authorities to religious minorities. Burma is already regarded as one of the world's worst violators of religious freedom, and is one of the US State Department's Countries of Particular Concern. To impose a requirement on churches and individuals to seek permission to read the Bible, pray, fast and hold a Sunday school is an extreme restriction and an extraordinary further violation of freedom of religion.”

Rogers added, “We urge the Burmese authorities to withdraw this requirement, in Phakant Township and in any other parts of the country where it may have been issued, and to uphold freedom of religion for all the people of Burma. We also urge the Burmese regime to invite the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief to visit the country, and conduct an independent investigation.”

Christian Solidarity Worldwide is a Christian organization working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

For further information, visit



Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "Homeless in the City."

Additional details on "Homeless in the City" are available at Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at

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