Saturday, November 26, 2011

CSW urges US Secretary of State to highlight human rights violations in ethnic states during visit to Burma

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has today written to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, welcoming her forthcoming visit to Burma and requesting her to use the opportunity to “urge the regime to stop attacking ethnic people, declare a nationwide ceasefire, release all political prisoners, and engage in a meaningful process of dialogue with the ethnic nationalities and the democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi”.

In a joint-letter by CSW-UK and CSW-USA, the organisation highlights specific incidents of rape, forced labour, torture, killings and attacks on churches in Kachin State. “We are deeply concerned about the continuing grave violations of human rights perpetrated by the Burma Army in the ethnic areas, and in particular Kachin State. There is no sign of the situation in the ethnic states improving, and in some areas the human rights and humanitarian crisis is deteriorating.”

The letter is signed by Bishop John Perry, Chairman of the Board of CSW-UK; Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of CSW-UK; Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader at CSW-UK; Lisa Scaling, Chairman of the Board of CSW-USA; Dr. Thomas Farr, Deputy Chairman of CSW-USA and former Director of the US State Department Office of International Religious Freedom; and Steve McFarland, a CSW-USA Board member and former Executive Director of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. In the letter, they specifically cite cases of violations against religious adherents, including attacks on Christian pastors, priests and churches in Kachin State; discrimination of the Muslim Rohingya people; and the continued detention of Buddhist monks, including U Gambira, one of the leaders of the 2007 pro-democracy protests led by monks.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “We welcome the forthcoming visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the first such visit to Burma in many decades, and we regard it as a unique opportunity to encourage significant and substantial change in the country. We hope the US Secretary of State will seize the moment, seek answers to the specific cases we have provided, and impress upon the regime the message that if it does want to convince people that it is serious about change, it must stop raping and killing people, stop attacking churches, declare a nationwide ceasefire, release prisoners of conscience, and engage in talks that will lead to a lasting and peaceful political solution for the ethnic nationalities, the democracy movement and all the people of Burma.”

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email or visit

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

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