US warns Myanmar over Muslim killings
WASHINGTON - Reuters
Myanmar President Thein Sein. AA PhotoPresident Barack Obama urged the president of Myanmar on May 20 to halt violence against Muslims but praised economic and political reforms. During the first visit to the White House in 47 years by a leader of the Southeast Asian nation, Obama called for an end to the killings of Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Reformist Myanmar President Thein Sein vowed to resolve ethnic conflicts and bring perpetrators to justice. “I also shared with President Sein our deep concern about communal violence that has been directed at Muslim communities inside Myanmar. The displacement of people, the violence directed towards them needs to stop,” Obama said.
At least 192 people died last year in violence between Buddhists in Rakhine and Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship by Myanmar. Most of the victims, and the 140,000 people made homeless in the attacks, were Muslims. Sein appealed for U.S. “assistance and understanding” as Myanmar attempts difficult reforms. Obama said the Myanmar leader had assured him that he intends to release more political prisoners and institutionalize reforms that have already begun transforming the country. Rights groups and some U.S. lawmakers fear Obama has moved too quickly since forging a dramatic breakthrough in relations in 2011 after a half century of military rule in Myanmar.