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ICC Note: Although conditions for Christians in Burma have improved in general over the past few years, grave violations of human rights remain. The Kachin, an ethnic minority based in the North of Burma and over 90% Christian, continues to face intermittent attacks at the hands of the pre-dominantly Buddhist military. Restrictions also remain on the expression of religious beliefs and social hostilities towards Christians in some parts of the country are high. 
7/14/2013 Burma (CSW) – Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) today urged the British Government to ensure that continuing grave violations of human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, are put at the heart of discussions with Burma’s President Thein Sein during his visit to the United Kingdom next week.
President Thein Sein is expected to arrive in London for a two-day official visit on 14 July and will meet the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the Foreign Secretary, William Hague. It is the first time a Burmese President has visited the UK in decades and is in recognition of the political reforms Thein Sein’s government has introduced over the past two years. It follows the UK visit in June 2012 of the leader of Burma’s democracy movement, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and a visit last month by leaders of the 88 Generation Student Movement.
Since Thein Sein became President in 2011, significant changes have been implemented, including the release of many political prisoners, the establishment of preliminary ceasefires with most of Burma’s ethnic armed resistance organisations, improvements in freedom of expression, including greater freedom for the media and increased space for civil society and political participation. In April 2012, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and 42 members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) were elected to Parliament in by-elections. Both Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein have undertaken several overseas visits, including to Europe and the United States, since then.
However, in the past year a campaign of hate speech and violence against Muslims has swept the country, following two waves of violence against the Muslim Rohingya people in Arakan State in June and October last year, killing thousands and displacing over 130,000. In predominantly Christian Kachin State the Burma Army has continued its military offensive, resulting in the displacement of over 100,000 civilians, the destruction of at least 200 villages and 66 churches. Rape, forced labour, torture and killing of civilians continue to be widespread. In Chin State, reports of religious discrimination and persecution against Christians continue. In May, CSW released a report following a visit to Burma which included interviews with internally displaced people in Kachin State and victims of recent anti-Muslim violence. CSW has also worked closely with the Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) to highlight the situation in Chin State.

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