A Christian aid group has revealed that students from Myanmar’s Chin ethic minority are being forced to shave their heads and convert to Buddhism, despite the president’s insistence that religious freedom is protected in the South Asian nation.
“President Thein Sein’s government claims that religious freedom is protected by law but in reality Buddhism is treated as the de facto state religion,” said Salai Ling, Program Director of the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).
Myanmar’s population of 55 million is heavily Buddhist at 89 percent, the CIA Factbook reveals, with Baptist Christians accounting for three percent and Roman Catholics numbering one percent.
The Chin nonprofit group, which was established on the India-Burma border by a group of Chin activists, stated, however, that an ultra-nationalistic viewpoint has gripped the country, pushed by a military regime that dictates that “to be Burmese, you should be Buddhist.”
The organization highlighted the plight of Christian students who enroll at schools run by Myanmar’s military, explaining that often times the students are beaten for failing to recite Buddhist scriptures, forced to shave their heads as per Buddhist tradition and convert to the Eastern religion.
So much for Buddhists all being Dalai-Lama-type peaceniks…