ASIA/MYANMAR - A Muslim lawyer killed: "An attack on democratic transition"

Tuesday, 31 January 2017 religious minorities   religious freedom   civil society   democracy   politics   persecutions  

Yangon (Agenzia Fides) - Strong condemnation and outrage for the murder of Muslim lawyer U Ko Ni, adviser of the National League for Democracy (NLD): is what civil society organizations, associations and other Christian religions say.
U Ko Ni, adviser of leader Aung San Suu Kyi on the constitutional reform, was killed outside the airport in Rangoon after a visit to Indonesia. He was openly critical regarding the involvement of the military in Burmese politics.
In a note sent to Fides, the NGO "Christian Solidarity Worldwide" (CSW) said that "U Ko Ni was also one of the most important Muslims in Myanmar, coherent supporter of freedom of religion and religious harmony. He was a rare voice among the Burmese political leaders, in defense of the persecuted Rohingyas, who are not recognized as citizens".
While first police investigations are underway, it is not known who is behind the murder, and if the reason of the act is of a political or religious nature. Observers point out that over the past five years incitement to hatred towards Muslims in the country has increased, and there have been frequent incidents of violence against Muslims.
CSW observes: "The horrible murder yesterday of U Ko Ni is a blow to the prospects for peace and democracy in Myanmar. It deprives the country of one of its most competent constitutional experts, the National League for Democracy (NLD) has lost one of its most respected advisers and one of the most important supporters for the Muslim community. This is a direct attack on the democratic transition in Myanmar".
A network of organizations committed to the protection of human rights calls on the Government of Myanmar and the international community to take concrete measures to counter religious intolerance in the country, calling it "a growing problem" given the "discrimination and persecution of religious and ethnic minorities".
On 27 January, the "Ma Ba Tha", the Buddhist nationalist movement active in Burma, warned against any attempt to amend the laws "for the protection of race and religion", introduced in 2015 by the previous government, including measures that restrict religious conversions and interfaith marriages. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 31/01/2017)