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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/23/13

Burma President says more than done on human rights

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President U Thein Sein urged the Interfaith Friendship Group and Myanmar National Human Rights Commission to cooperate with the government in order to take responsibility for the dignity of the nation not to be dishonored caused by the conflict between the two communities in the country, the state-run New Light of Myanmar reported on 22 July.

The issue is being exaggerated, the President added, as racial and religious conflict between the two communities and afterward it turned into regional and international issues so as to bring it to the United Nations. During a meeting with the grouping at Yangon Region Government Office on Sunday, the President highlighted again of his concerns on conflict between the two communities that could damage the image of the country and its reforms.

The constitution of the country grants protection to the four major religions including Islam, Thein Sein said. The racial discrimination has no place in the country, he added. During his visits to overseas countries, he has made clear that the conflicts were caused by crimes against the law in the particular localities, he added.

He urged the group to work in partnership with the government for three prioritized duties. The first priority is the rehabilitation of the areas where the conflicts broke out, he said. According to him, his government has already expensed over 6 billion kyats on delivering aids to over 100,000 victims in cooperation with the international organizations.

Penalizing actions had been taken against the criminals involved in the conflicts and police are going to accomplish their duties in order to look into misconducts during the conflicts, he explained.

The second priority task is to prevent repeating of such conflicts, the President explained, and the Interfaith Friendship Group is required to be part of the task to form region/state/township level groups as the government has been engaging in the second process. He called on Myanmar Human Rights Commission to start on giving human rights education to develop the public awareness of their rights.

The third course of action, he said, is a durable plan searching for resolution on the origin of the conflict. Thein Sein also said that it is necessary to maintain performing the tasks of social and economic development together with health and education improvement. Then, he reminded to be aware of recommendations of Rakhine State Investigation Commission.

During a recent visit to Britain, Thein Sein said on 15 July that thousands of prisoners already have been released from Myanmar's jails as the country shifts away from military rule, and that a committee is working through the cases of those still behind bars.

""I guarantee to you that by the end of this year, there will be no prisoners of conscience in Myanmar,'' he told an audience at Chatham House in London, shortly after meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, according to the Associated Press news.

Kachin activists in London on 15 July protested Burmese President Thein Sein's state visit to the UK. A large group of Kachin protesters gathered in front of the British Prime Ministers official residence at 10 Downing Street as Thein Sein met his British counterpart David Cameron for talks, as reported by the Kachin News Group (KNG).

On the same day, the Kachin National Organization (KNO) issued a statement criticizing Thein Sein and the British government's red carpet treatment for the ex-army general many Kachin consider a war criminal. The KNO statement mentions that under Thein Sein's leadership Burma's military has carried out "crime against humanity, war crimes and violation of international law" in Kachin state.

Despite the international community acceptance of Myanmar's reforms, some MPs in the British parliament including Rt Hon John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Common, still have some concerns, said Ye Htut who is the spokesman of the President Thein Sein. They also raised the issue of human rights, he added, as reported by the Eleven Media Group.

"The President explained to Rt Hon John Bercow and invited him to see the current situations in the country, that is -- the President made him believe Myanmar's reforms. That meant he would help us to overcome challenges ahead," Ye Htut told the reporters at Yangon International Airport where he and the President arrived back from the visit of Birtain and France on July 20.

Human Rights Watch urged Britain's Prime Minster David Cameron to push Burmese President to bring those responsible for atrocities against Burma's Muslims to justice, release all political prisoners, and ensures that new legislation meets international human rights standards.

In a statement dated 13 July 2013 ahead of President Thein Sein's recent visit to London, HRW says, "Doing business in Burma involves various human rights risks. These include the lack of rule of law and an independent judiciary, major tensions over the acquisition and use of land, and disregard of community concerns in government-approved projects. The military's extensive involvement in the economy, use of forced labor, and abusive security practices in business operations heightens concerns. Corruption is pervasive throughout the country."

Hence, President Thein Sein needs to do much more not only on human rights issue but also on the lack of rule of law which is the root cause of several problems including abuses of governmental authorities.

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Zin Linn was born on February 9, 1946 in a small town in Mandalay Division. He began writing poems in 1960 and received a B.A (Philosophy) in 1976. He became an activist in the High School Union after the students' massacre on 7th July 1962. (more...)

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