Burma – also known as Myanmar – also faces threats to religious freedom. In the country, which is nearly 90 percent Buddhist, both Muslims and Christians have reported suffering persecution.
Rogers noted the rise of “militant Buddhism” there, primarily against Muslims, particularly the Rohingya, an ethnic group who live in Rakhine state. The Rohingya have long been persecuted by the country's Buddhist majority, and in 2012, riots in Rakhine displaced some 125,000 Rohingya.
In addition, the state has engaged in the targeting of individuals in Kachin state, which is home to an ethnic group whose identity is “tied up” with Christianity, he said. Within the territory, Kachin people have been held prisoner and forced to participate in sexual acts with other prisoners.
Rogers said he feared that such persecution of Muslims and Christians in Burma may “call the attention of radical Islamist groups” to use violence against their Buddhist persecutors. He warned that the destabilization of Burma, and the upsetting of the tradition of religious tolerance in Indonesia, may set an unfortunate example for other nations in the region.
However, there is still hope, Rogers noted. In Burma, some Buddhists are beginning to speak out against the persecution, joining Christian and Muslim voices in opposition to the discrimination.
Rogers described meeting a former Islamic Defenders Front fighter, who became an advocate for religious liberty after speaking to his Ahmadi neighbors.
He also added that there is some public support for pluralism and solidarity with the persecuted in the country, displays of which have become more common as the country's 2014 national elections approach.
Still, “we just need more of them to counter this climate of hatred,” he emphasized.