Target: Burmese President, Thein Sein
Goal: Protect freedom of choice for women in Burma
Women in Burma, the country formerly known as Myanmar, are in danger of having their freedom of choice taken away from them. A nationalist Buddhist monk named U Wirathu has been attacking women’s right to choose in important life matters. Stand against oppression and uphold the rights of women in Burma.
Last year, Wirathu mobilized his followers to push for similar changes to the law books. His group proposed that any Buddhist woman who wants to marry a non-Buddhist man would have to get her parents’ permission to do so and then prove their acceptance to the government. The groom would then be forced to convert to Buddhism. If these rules were not followed, Wirathu argued, then the groom would face a prison sentence up to 10 years and have his property taken by the government. These types of laws have no place in the civilized world. The freedom of choice is one of the most basic and important human rights.
Religious leaders should not be calling to restrict freedoms. The government should immediately denounce the proposals by U Wirathu and his followers. The Burmese constitution explicitly guarantees freedom of sex, race, or religion without the fear of facing discrimination. Wirathu and his followers are attempting to destroy that passage of the Burmese constitution. While Wirathu claims that the law is for women’s protection, it is obviously restrictive of women’s rights as well as dismissive of religious and ethnic minorities.
A member of the Lower House of parliament is expected to put forward the amendment to the marriage law when the parliamentary session resumes. The legislative body, while only containing 20 female members out of 659, should listen to the cries of women’s rights groups as well as pressure from international human rights groups and shut down this amendment. Burma must do more to ensure the rights of all their citizens so that they can become a member of the international community. Sign this petition and demand that the government shut down this amendment.
Dear President Thein Sein,
The recent proposed amendment in your parliament to change the marriage law is a drastic violation of international human rights law. If your government wishes to become a fully-fledged member of the international community then you must do all that you can to make sure that this amendment does not pass.
International donors and governments building diplomatic and trade relations with Burma will insist that your country respects the basic right of all women and men to choose a partner, marry, and start a family. This basic right of choice is an essential human right. I ask that you immediately strike down this amendment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Public Domain