Burma: Authorities Issue New Restrictions on Religious Activity
Officials in Burma's Kachin state have issued new regulations requiring churches to submit requests to the local government at least 15 days in advance for permission to conduct Bible studies, Sunday school, Bible reading and fasting prayer, ASSIST News Service reports. Currently, Burmese churches are required to obtain permission for any events other than Sunday services, but the new regulations impose even more severe restrictions. "It appears that despite changes in rhetoric, there has been no change of attitude ... on the part of Burmese authorities to religious minorities," said Benedict Rogers of Christian Solidarity Worldwide. Burma is regarded as one of the world's worst violators of religious freedom, and "to impose a requirement on churches and individuals to seek permission to read the Bible, pray, fast and hold a Sunday school is ... an extraordinary further violation," Rogers said.