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Despite Political Reforms, Burma Maintains Restrictions on Religious Freedom

07/31/2012 Burma (mizzima.com) - The government maintained restrictions on certain religious activities and limited freedom of religion, although it generally permitted adherents of government-registered religious groups to worship as they chose, the report said.

The Christian community reported a notable easing of restrictions on church building and a positive relationship with the Ministry of Religion, including the ministry’s organization of interfaith dialogues. The government also passed a new law to protect freedom of assembly and procession and provided greater access to ethnic minority areas for U.S. officials and organizations, it said.

However, it said religious activities and organizations were subject to restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and assembly.

“The government continued to monitor the meetings and activities of virtually all organizations, including religious organizations, and required religious groups to seek permission from authorities before holding any large public event,” it said.

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“The government also actively promoted Theravada Buddhism over other religions, particularly among ethnic minorities.

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“The government discouraged proselytizing by non-Buddhist clergy, often through the use of censorship. These restrictions mostly affected some Christian denominations and Islam. The government generally has not allowed permanent foreign religious groups to operate in the country since the mid-1960s, when it expelled nearly all foreign missionaries and nationalized almost all private schools and hospitals. The government was not known to have paid any compensation in connection with these extensive confiscations,” the report said.

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