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Burmese PM Says Religion Used As A Tool To Slander Burma - 2003-12-20


Burma's Prime Minister Khin Nyunt says "destructive elements" both inside and outside the country are trying to sow religious and racial unrest.

Speaking at a pre-Christmas service, the prime minister said the government supports religious harmony among the different faiths. But he warned that there are people who use religion as a tool to slander Burma.

Khin Nyunt did not identify the so-called "destructive elements" he was referring to. But Burma's military regime has used the term in the past to refer to pro-democracy and ethnic minority activists who have criticized the government.

The statement comes just two days after the U.S. State Department issued a report that listed Burma among 11 Asian nations among the most repressive in the world when it comes to religious freedom.

Burma and China along with North Korea were cited as repeat offenders on the report's list of countries "of particular concern."

Burma is predominantly Buddhist but also includes followers of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and animism.

Information for this report is provided by AP.

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