The Need of Trust-Building in a Future, Post-coup Myanmar

Seng Mai Aung is the program officer for Myanmar at the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) and received her JD from the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, in 2023. This post originally appeared on the Institute for Global Engagement blog, 17 January 2024.


Achieving unity poses the greatest challenge for Myanmar, given the systemic division among diverse religious and ethnic groups that has persisted during seven decades of military rule. Myanmar has existed in seclusion, tightly controlling information and manipulating narratives to underscore the military’s role in preserving “unity” among the populace. This division functions like a contagious virus, spreading throughout the community and undermining trust between Myanmar’s various ethnic and religious groups.


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The AMAR Foundation: Remedies to Religious Persecution, Lessons in Peacebuilding

Andrew Methven is The AMAR International Charitable Foundation’s Chief of Staff, based in its London office. The following is an edited summary of his remarks given 3 October 2022 at the ICLRS 29th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, which focused on “Religion’s Roles in Peacebuilding.”

The Work of the AMAR Foundation

The AMAR International Charitable Foundation was founded by our chairman, Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, in 1991 to aid the Marsh Arabs, who had been driven by Saddam Hussein to refugee camps in Lebanon and Iran. AMAR’s model was to provide practical help in the form of health care, through Primary Health Care Clinics (PHCCs), and education, through schools. It relied on using Iraqis’ own human capital—doctors and teachers—and raising funds at the market rate for them to run their own clinics and schools in the refugee camps. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, AMAR went on to establish 83 schools and 75 clinics in Baghdad and the Basra Marshes, now mostly handed over to local authorities in a sustainable way. Over the years, AMAR has delivered more than 10.5 million consultations. AMAR has also worked in other countries, including Romania/Ukraine, Somaliland, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Lebanon.


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Interview: Knox Thames on the U.S. Efforts to Advance Religious Freedom Globally

Knox Thames is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement and Visiting Expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace. He previously served as the State Department Special Advisor for Religious Minorities under both the Obama and Trump administrations. He is writing a book on 21st-century strategies to combat religious persecution. Knox Thames was interviewed by Dmytro Vovk.

Watch a shorter video version of this interview here.

TalkAbout: Why is religious freedom an important part of U.S. foreign policy?

Knox Thames: The promotion of freedom of religion or belief, internationally, is a reflection of American values and history. Many of the first European settlers were religious minorities who came to North America because they were fleeing religious persecution in Europe. They were looking for a place where they could freely practice their beliefs and live out their faith, and they found that here in North America. It’s been a part of the American narrative from the very beginning. Once our Republic was established, our Constitution was written, and our Bill of Rights was created, the very first of ten amendments, the First Amendment, was created protecting freedom of religion or belief and preventing the government from interfering into the practice of religion. It was that framework that has served our country very well over 245 years. We have tremendous religious liberty here in the United States. It’s not perfect. But it has continually improved as we’ve become increasingly diverse religiously, ethnically, to allow everyone to pursue truth as their conscience leads.


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