On November 15, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Myanmar to meet with Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian head of the country, to discuss “credible reports of widespread atrocities” by the country’s security forces against the minority Muslim Rohingya population.
He urged both Kyi and the country’s military commander General Min Aung Hlaing to investigate and halt the violence that has driven more than 615,000 Rohingya across the border into Bangladesh since late last August.
Tillerson referred to the situation as “horrific” in a news conference after the meeting and said there had been “crimes against humanity,” warning that targeted sanctions against individuals may be called for.
The troubles began when a group of Rohingya activists attacked police in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, prompting a harsh response from the country’s security forces. A senior United Nations official termed the campaign against the Rohingya a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Muslims continue to flood into Bangladesh, bringing with them accounts of villages burned to the ground, women raped and children flung into fires. These accounts have been corroborated by human rights investigators and satellite evidence.
“The key test of any democracy is how it treats its most vulnerable and marginalized populations,” Tillerson said to the press. “It is the responsibility of the government and the security forces to protect and respect the human rights of all persons within its borders and to hold accountable those who fail to do so.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has urged the U.S. State Department to include Myanmar in the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC).
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than fifty years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
From persecution of religious minorities to issues revolving around religious worship, beliefs, rites, expression, association, dress, symbols, education, registration and workplace discrimination, religious freedom issues have achieved a prominent place in global headlines.
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