Protecting Buddhism through Law: Myanmar’s legislation to "protect race and religion"

This seminar with Dr. Ma Khin Mar Mar Kyi, Oxford University and Dr. Iselin Frydenlund, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights and PRIO analyses four laws to ‘protect race and religion’ in Myanmar. 

The laws regulate conversion, mixed marriages, and family planning, in addition to ban polygamy and extra-marital affairs. What are the consequences of these laws for the right to religious freedom in Myanmar? What are the consequences for religious minorities, if any? How might the laws affect women and gender relations?

Myanmar´s political transition period has seen a rise in ethno-religious conflicts and increased politicization of religion. Buddhist-Muslim violence and the insurgence of Buddhist nationalist groups create new challenges for Myanmar´s democratization process. In particular, the four ‘race and protection laws’ passed during 2015 have caused great controversy. In this public seminar we will address the state of religious freedom and women’s rights in times of political change in Myanmar and ask questions as to why these laws are passed at this point in Myanmar’s political transition.


Dr. Iselin Frydenlund, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo.
Dr. Frydenlund is a senior researcher at PRIO and Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. Her research interests include the role of religion in war and peace, suicide terrorism, interreligious dialogue in its various forms, and freedom of religion or belief. She has written extensively on the role of Buddhism in the Sri Lankan civil war. She is currently leading a project at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights on legal regulation of religion in Myanmar.

Dr. Ma Khin Mar Mar Kyi, Oxford University
Dr. Ma Khin Mar Mar Kyi is currently a postdoctoral Research Scholar at Oxford University.  She is an award-winning social anthropologist, gender specialist, filmmaker and has furthermore a background in education. Her research has focused on child protection, trafficking, gender violence, migration and governance issues. She has had many years of experience working with vulnerable Burmese communities in sensitive and complex political environments where violence, poverty, and substance abuse are common. 

For further information, please contact project leader Iselin Frydenlund  or Zoë Eunjae Lee 


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Published Nov. 4, 2015 3:29 PM - Last modified Nov. 24, 2015 3:45 PM