Myanmar denies suppressing minority Christians
The military junta said that the country guarantees religious freedom for all.Updated: Feb 07, 2007, 14:31 IST
Military-run Myanmar on Wednesday denied a British rights group's report accusing the junta of persecuting minority Christians, saying the country guarantees religious freedom for all.
"It is evident that all the religious and the ethnic minority groups in Myanmar have experienced the freedom of worship and the right to express their faiths," the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper said, quoting a statement from the Yangon Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA).
The junta was responding to a January report by Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a London-based group specialising in religious freedom, which accused Myanmar of using "a range of tactics" to suppress Christians.
The tactics range "from churches in Yangon finding it difficult to obtain permission to renovate their buildings to pastors in Chin State (western Myanmar) being killed," the report said.
But the military government's mouth-piece said the report was part of ongoing efforts by the United States, a vocal critic of the junta, to slander the Southeast Asian nation.
"The United States has been making accusations against Myanmar while allowing its follower organisations and stooges to distribute wrong data and facts concerning Myanmar's religious affairs," the daily newspaper said.
Myanmar, which has been ruled by the military since 1962, is a predominantly Buddhist nation of some 55 million people.
Buddhists account for 89 per cent of the population, while Christians and Muslims make up five per cent and three per cent respectively, according to official figures.
The United States also issued a report last year accusing the junta of infiltrating religious groups' meetings, preventing Buddhist clergy from teaching about human rights and limiting the repair of Christian and Muslim places of worship.