Myanmar's government-in-exile calls for religious freedom

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Myanmar's government-in-exile calls for religious freedomDr Sasa, a minister with the exiled National Unity Government, calls on the military regime to stop committing atrocities against civilians and attacking places of worship. His government is proposing turning Myanmar into a federal state. Since the coup, more than 20,000 homes and places of worship have been set on fire and destroyed.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Maung Taing San, better known as Dr Sasa, is the Minister of International Cooperation of the National Unity Government, Myanmar’s government-in-exile.

In a recent speech on religious freedom, he said that, “The freedom to believe is the fundamental freedom that all human beings are granted by Almighty God. That has to be upheld, respected and protected. That is exactly what the people of Myanmar want.”

“The people of Myanmar want to have full religious freedom, the freedom to believe or not believe and the freedom to choose their future.

“When we talk about freedom, we are talking about freedom to choose, freedom to believe, freedom to hope, love and live in peace. Freedom of education including religious education. The freedom to thrive and flourish”.

For the member of Myanmar’s government-in-exile, which is recognised by the United Nations, “These are the reasons for this historical Myanmar people’s revolution, the brave people of Myanmar are fighting for freedom and federal democracy.”

After the military coup that ousted the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar plunged into civil war.

“In the month of May alone more than 7,000 civilian houses, churches and other places of worship were burnt down and destroyed by genocidal military soldiers and their sponsored civilian militia partners,” Dr Sasa said.

Overall, more than 20,000 homes and places of worship have been burnt and destroyed.

“Due to these atrocities, more than 1.2 million people are displaced and have become homeless. Many of these atrocities are occurring in religious minority populations,” he added.

The generals “are using religion and race as weapons by supporting ultra-extremist groups such as Mabata which mean our race, religion and mission. And the extremist group leader Wirathu was named by Time Magazine as the face of Buddhist terror.”

“Mabata created several movements such as [the] 969 movement which openly advocated violence against other religion minorities [. . .] in Myanmar and spread hate speeches against minority religions in Myanmar.”

And that is not all. The military “are using starvation, hunger, and poverty as a weapon to intimidate and destroy our religious freedom”, attacking especially religious “minority groups” in “Christian majority states – Chin, Karenni (Kayah), Kachin, Karen – and Muslim minority Rohingya populations in Rakhine”.

Th military have effectively prevented aid workers from going to minority areas in order to stop food, medicines and aid from reaching minorities.

By contrast, the National Unity Government wants to draft a “federal, democratic, principles-based constitution that belongs to ALL the people of Myanmar,” a “constitution that respects, protects, and promotes freedom and rights for ALL the people of Myanmar regardless of race, religious, gender, colour, language, background, and ethnicity.”

This said, “The brave people of Myanmar will never give up, we will not rest nor stop this fight for our freedom and [for] federal democracy.”