Ambassador Bennett Visits Indonesia and Burma, Announces Religious Freedom Funding

Canada continues leadership in promoting religious freedom globally

May 6, 2015 – Yangon, Burma – Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, today announced support from Canada’s Religious Freedom Fund for two projects in Burma. This announcement comes near the end of his travels over the past two weeks to Indonesia and Burma, where he met with government officials, religious leaders and civil society to discuss religious freedom in both countries.

In Burma, Ambassador Bennett met with key stakeholders who have been part of the country’s remarkable transition toward greater democracy, reconciliation and respect for human rights. His visit to Burma was undertaken together with David Saperstein, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. They delivered a joint message that improving religious freedom conditions will advance Burma’s security, stability and democracy.

The funding for the two projects in Burma, which totals more than $580,000, comes from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom. These projects will promote religious freedom through education and will help build Burma’s capacity to respond to violations of religious freedom.

Ambassador Bennett’s visit to Indonesia builds on the Bilateral Plan of Action, signed by Canada’s and Indonesia’s foreign affairs ministers in August 2014, in which both countries committed to promoting pluralism and religious tolerance.

Quick Facts

Burma

  • In August 2014, Canada opened its embassy in Yangon to enable it to play a more active role in Burma’s continuing transformation.
  • Canada is working with Burma to further strengthen tolerance, religious freedom and pluralism, including through the projects Canada announced today.
  • Burma is home to a wide diversity of religious groups, including Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Animists.
  • Burma is also home to seven major ethnic groups and dozens of smaller groups. Together, such groups make up 60 percent of the country’s population.

Indonesia

  • Canada and Indonesia have maintained a strong and friendly partnership since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1952. Canada continues to work with Indonesia on issues of mutual importance, including counterterrorism, good governance, human rights, religious freedom, pluralism and poverty reduction.
  • Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population.
  • Indonesia is well regarded as a moderate voice in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
  • Indonesia officially recognizes six religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism.

Quotes

“While recognizing the progress that has been made to address significant challenges the Burmese people have faced, Canada is proud to support this continued development through these projects that will promote religious freedom.”

– Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom

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