US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Burma in early August to discuss the 2015 elections in the South Asian country. Human rights organizations hoped Kerry would use his visit to pressure the Burmese authorities to address human rights issues occurring in the country.
Kerry declared support for the Burmese government and encouraged reforms, including democratic elections in 2015. However, Human Rights Watch asserts that the new Burmese reforms “have stalled or are backsliding.”
Just two months before Kerry’s visit women activists were arrested in Burma while peacefully protesting against sexual violence. Eight of these women stood trial for unauthorized public protest in July. Burma has recently drafted a number of laws that will affect women’s rights, such as the Interfaith Marriage Bill. This bill states that interfaith marriages should be restricted and would prevent Buddhist women from marrying outside their faith. The US authorities did not comment on these arrests or new laws while Kerry was in Burma.
READ our statement on the Interfaith Marriage Bill, 3 July 2014.
Report on sexual violence in Burma’s ethnic areas, Women’s League of Burma, January 2014.
Burma/US: Kerry Should Press Rights Concerns, Human Rights Watch, 6 August 2014.
U.S.’s Kerry presses Myanmar leaders on human rights reforms, Reuters, 9 August 2014.
SIGN the petition to stop the Interfaith Marriage Bill.