Date: February 1, 2023
Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today marked the second anniversary of the military coup in Burma that overthrew the quasi-democratic civilian government. To date, the military coup has led to the death of around 3,000 civilians as well as the destruction of villages and houses of worship in various parts of the country. The Burmese military, known as the Tatmadaw, and the State Administrative Council (SAC)—which it established to run the country—have specifically targeted ethnic and religious minorities as part of a broad crackdown on dissent.
“It has been two years since the coup and we have yet to see the SAC brought to justice for the Rohingya genocide and myriad abuses of religious freedom and human rights,” stated USCIRF Commissioner Eric Ueland. “The Biden administration must be more active in support for international efforts to hold the Tatmadaw and the Burmese authorities accountable with all tools at their disposal, including coordinated sanctions against Tatmadaw leaders for particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”
On February 1, 2021, before they lost power to the democratically elected government, the Tatmadaw overthrew the Burmese government. Its subsequent seizure of government institutions and the resulting chaos has led to the deaths of thousands and the displacement of hundreds of thousands. It has also prevented refugees, many of whom have fled religious persecution since the Tatmadaw’s genocidal campaign starting in 2017, from repatriating to Burma. As the SAC has increased its sponsorship of extremist factions within the Buddhist majority, the return of over a million Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh and throughout Southeast Asia is highly unlikely while it remains in power.
“USCIRF stands in solidarity with the people of Burma who have endured great suffering in these two years since the coup,” said USCIRF Commissioner Mohamed Magid. “We urge the U.S. government to continue to coordinate with international partners to hold the SAC accountable for its human rights abuses within Burma, especially its persecution of the Buddhist majority who do not want the authoritarian government to coopt their faith, the predominately Muslim Rohingya, and various Christian communities.”
In its 2022 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended the U.S. Department of State redesignate Burma as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC). USCIRF also recently published a Burma Policy Update on the repercussions of the 2021 Burma coup, elaborating on religious freedom conditions in Burma and providing recommendations to the U.S. government.
USCIRF will be hosting a hearing next week on Burma following two years of rule by the military junta and its impact on religious freedom conditions.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a commissioner, please contact USCIRF at