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    » 09/17/2012, 00.00

    UNITED STATES - MYANMAR

    Aung San Suu Kyi in the US to discuss reforms, sanctions and the fate of the Rohingya



    Myanmar's opposition leader will receive the US highest civilian award from Congress. She is expected to meet government leaders, including President Obama, as well as exiled Burmese in New York and San Francisco. The fate of minority Muslim Rohingya is a touchy issue at home and abroad for the Nobel Prize laureate.

    Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Myanmar's pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi began a 17-day tour of the United States today where she will meet high-ranking US government officials as well as major Burmese exiles and dissidents.

    Her first stop is in Washington where she is expected to talk with officials at the State Department and the White House, including a possible meeting with US President Barack Obama.

    Talks are expected to centre on recent political and social reforms launched by the Burmese government as well as the possibility of lifting US sanctions against the former Burma.

    The fate of the Southeast Asian country's Rohingya Muslim minority, which has suffered ethnic-religious persecution for months, should also be discussed.

    In the US capital, the Nobel Prize laureate will receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honour in the US, which she was awarded in 2008 when she was under house arrest.

    Aung San Suu Kyi will then travel to New York, where she lived between 1969 and 1971, followed by the Midwest and finally San Francisco, California, home to a large community of Burmese exiles.

    Since her release in November 2010, Myanmar has undertaken a long process of democratic reforms after decades of military dictatorship, a transition that has led the peace prize winner to parliament.

    However, there are still many critics among dissidents and opposition figures, for whom the changes are only superficial since the top leaders of the armed forces remain the real powerbrokers.

    Recently, US President Barack Obama and his administration began lifting some trade sanctions, a process that should now be complete.

    On the eve of her departure, opposition National League for Democracy spokesman Nyan Win, said that Suu Kyi would she would use "this opportunity" to "talk at least about the reforms situation in Myanmar".

    Another hot topic on the agenda is the fate of minority Rohingya, victim of military-backed Buddhist persecution in the western state of Rakhine.

    In the recent past, Myanmar's main opposition leader took a prudent stance on ethnic conflicts and the issue of citizenship for the Muslim group. Asked in June whether Rohingya should be regarded as Burmese citizens, she said, "I do not know".

    Last week the US embassy in Yangon expressed its "great concern" at the humanitarian situation in Rakhine state.

     

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    See also

    02/02/2009 MYANMAR
    Aung San Suu Kyi meets with UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari
    The pro-democracy leader leaves house arrest for an hour-long talk with the representative of the United Nations. Suu Kyi stresses that the visit of the UN secretary general is "conditioned" on the liberation of political prisoners. From the United Nations, a plan of economic assistance in exchange for concessions on matters of democracy and human rights.

    02/12/2011 MYANMAR – UNITED STATES
    Aung San Suu Kyi and Hillary Clinton together for Myanmar’s “new future”
    After a private dinner last night, Myanmar’s opposition leader and US Secretary of State hold face-to-face meeting. For the Nobel Prize laureate, her country can get “on the road to democracy” and that “there will be no turning back”. Meanwhile, Burmese military and Shan militias announce ceasefire.

    04/08/2008 MYANMAR
    Democracy and human rights on agenda of UN envoy in Myanmar
    The representative of the United Nations will meet with the leaders of the ruling military junta, and with a delegation of Buddhist monks, the force behind the revolt in September 2007, put down with violence. No confirmation of a possible face-to-face meeting with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

    13/01/2012 MYANMAR
    High profile Burmese political prisoners freed
    The measure desired by the President of Myanmar about 651 prisoners, among them - but the exact number is still unknown - prisoners of conscience. These would include monks, student leaders and former prime minister and intelligence chief Khin Nyunt. Aung San Suu Kyi says it is a "positive signal". One step closer to the possibile removal of Western sanctions.

    08/06/2010 INDIA – MYANMAR
    A silent international community faces Myanmar’s nuclear ambitions
    For the past ten years, Myanmar’s military junta has been involved in a secret nuclear weapons programme with the cooperation of North Korea. ASEAN and SAARC are doing nothing to stop the military regime in accordance with the principle of non-interference. “It is time for the world to act,” exiled Burmese minister says.



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