17 November 2012. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has urged the President to raise issues of religious freedom as he visits Asia in his first post-election overseas trip. The President’s trip will include a historic visit to Burma, also known as Myanmar.
USCIRF’s letter (read full text here) recognizes Burma’s recent political changes and promise, but it underscores the serious problems that religious minorities in that country continue to face. In the letter, USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett provides several, specific examples of violence, discrimination, and religious restrictions that occur regularly. It is noted that Burmese security forces and local officials are often complicit in these offenses. The letter demonstrates hope that the President’s engagements will contribute to the full realization of religious freedom in Burma.
USCIRF was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments, and to give independent policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress.