US hails Myanmar’s `positive reforms`

Last Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 - 08:49

Washington: Praising the Myanmar government for having made numerous positive reforms in recent years, the US has defended its decision to invite President Thein Sein to America after coming under attack from human rights organisation.

"They`ve made a number of positive reforms in recent years. They`ve recently released over 850 political prisoners. They`ve eased restrictions on the media and increasingly respect freedoms of expression, assembly and movement. But this is obviously an ongoing discussion," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters yesterday.

Thein Sein, the first head of the state of Myanmar to visit the White House in five decades is scheduled to meet Obama on May 20, a presidential spokesman said.

The Obama administration has been criticised by human rights organisations for having invited Thein Sein, in view of the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar for past several months now.

"The President is looking forward to discuss challenges to efforts to develop democracy, address communal and ethnic tensions and bring economic opportunity to the people and to explore how United States can help," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

However, a Washington-based prominent Burmese group feels that this is not the right time to invite Thein Sein.

"Instead of retracting previous concessions on the condition that the government stops abusing the Rohingya, the Kachin, Muslims, and others, The Obama administration has responded disproportionately by granting more concessions," said US Campaign for Burma executive director Jennifer Quigley.

"President Obama is sending the message that crimes against humanity by state forces against ethnic and religious minorities in Burma will be ignored by his administration," Quigley said.

In its statement, USCB said inviting Thein Sein reinforces the message of a positive US-Burma relationship while human rights violations escalate and rampant impunity in Thein Sein`s government is condoned.

"The US Administration, instead of honouring an abusive leader, should tie its concessions to conditions, including curbing the anti-Muslim violence, pursuing justice and accountability, allowing humanitarian aid to reach IDPs, and halting military assaults against ethnic groups," USCB said.


First Published: Friday, May 17, 2013 - 08:49

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