Thein Sein Pressed on Rohingya Citizenship

VIENTIANE—In a meeting with President Thein Sein on Tuesday at the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Summit in Laos, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague urged “all political parties in Burma to do what they can to end the violence and address the issue of Rohingya citizenship.”

Hague and Thein Sein are attending the ninth ASEM summit in the Laotian capital, along with leaders of European and Asian countries.

Burmese Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday afternoon that the Arakan (Rakhine) strife was “not the fault of the government or the people of Myanmar” while admitting that action was being taken to avoid the spread of violence.

“There was an unfortunate incident that happened in the last week of May and that created anger among the native people. This led to communal violence between two communities,” he said.

“Because of this anger there were revenge incidents that spread to other parts of Rakhine State. The government has been handling with great caution and care so this cannot spread to other places and affect peace and stability in the country.”

Thein Sein would not comment on the summit when approached by The Irrawaddy while leaving a lunchtime meeting on Tuesday.

Hague’s comments were echoed by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natelagawa, who told The Irrawaddy that “one core issue in resolving the conflict is citizenship, and this is a matter the Myanmar government must address in the future.”

However, the recent violence in Arakan State and the plight of Burma’s Rohingya minority was not discussed at the summit, Natalagawa added. “There has not been any more specific discussion of the issue of Rakhine State and the Rohingya,” he said.

Expressing hope that Indonesia’s example in resolving sectarian strife could be emulated in Burma, Natalagawa said that the Arakan violence “is not a conflict of religion, but is a communal conflict, a horizontal one.”

Discussing their Tuesday meeting in Vientiane, William Hague said that, “I was pleased to meet President Thein Sein to follow up our meeting in Burma in January. I congratulated him on the progress Burma has made so far on vital political and economic reforms.”

The British government hopes that Thein Sein will visit the UK next year, with Hague adding that, “I encouraged continued cooperation between the UK and Burmese governments to promote responsible trade with and investment in Burma. And I expressed my hope that the president would be able to visit the UK early next year.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak expressed unease for the plight of Muslims in western Burma. “Malaysia remains extremely concerned about ongoing tensions between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine State of Myanmar,” he said.

“We urge all parties to exercise restraint and avoid provoking further hostilities and hope that authorities, including the government and religious leaders, can work towards a peaceful resolution. Malaysia stands ready to lend assistance, so that further displacement and loss of life can be prevented.”

5 Responses to Thein Sein Pressed on Rohingya Citizenship

  1. The difference is that the Rohingyas in Burma are not illegal immgrants. Majority of them are living in Burma for generations.

  2. Your comparison is not valid.  Burmese authorities are standing back and allowing people to burn houses, beat up and force others to flee for their lives. The majority of victims are people born in Burma- not new arrivals seeking work- whose families have have lived in Burma for generations, but they have been denied citizenship and basic rights; kids can’t go to school, they can’t own property. This has never been the case in the USA EU or UK.

  3. The British foreign secretary has no right to lecture Myanmar on how to treat the illegal infiltrators from neigboring country. Myanmar people are as much fed up with foreign interference as with illegal infiltrators. If William Hague is concerned about human rights he should lecture Bangladesh for persecuting the Chakma and Marma Buddhists in Chittagong Hill Tracts.  Ironically the foreign secretary is quiet when it comes to human rights violations in Muslim countries.

  4.  Well. How many times Bengali Rohingya peoples want to rewrite history?
    I have been studying Burmese history for most of my life. This is a first time I ever heard of ridiculous story from you.
    Chittagong was built by Buddhist King Lama. Chittagong region was under the Rakhine Kingdom until 14 century. Muslim Sultan robbed Chittagong from Rakhine King in 14 century. In 16 century, Rakhine King retook Chittagong from Barbaric Bandit Muslim Sultan. However, Mughal Muslim King had stealing Chittagong from Rakhine King again in 17 century. That time Mughal King expelled Rakhine peoples from Bengal. In 1823, Konbaung King’s Gen. Myawaddy Mingyi U Sa troop defeated British and it Kala salve troop at battle of Panwa (Ramu) in beginning of First Anglo Burmese war and Burmese temporary regain control on Chittagong.  However, Burmese had lost war after British attacked on lower Burma and Burma had lost great General Mahabandoola at Danubyu. Burmese lost the war because British has equipped with modern weapons.
    The First Anglo-Burmese War ended in a British East India Company victory, and by the Treaty of Yandabo, Burma lost territory previously conquered in Assam, Manipur, and Arakan including Chittagong region in 1826.
    Now all regions except Rakhine state were in India or Bangladesh.
    There’s no Rohingya single name can be found in Rakhine history.
    Rakhine Kings will be very regretful for letting Muslim merchants to trading at Chittagong port with Rakhine Kingdom if they were alive today.
    However, today is not 14 century anymore and Burmese peoples know how to protect their sovereignty, culture and religion.
    One thing you need take a note it’s there will be no Bangladesh Country if British did not involve or British didn’t colonized India, Burma and Sub India Continent in history. The Bengal region was belonging to Rakhine Kingdom start from 6 century.
    Today Union of Burma will be including Assam, Manipur, Chittagong region in west and Ching Mai (Lanna) in East if British were not screw up on Burma.
    If Rakhine King was known about Muslim vulgarity and then the Rakhine King will never allow Muslim stepping foot in Bengal soil.
    Remember this is Reader Digest version but if I have chance I want to write with evidence. All of my books were in Back home.
    I hope Bengali Rohingya will drop Rohingya word and proudly go back to Bengali ethnic of Bangladeshi Citizen in near future.
    Sai Lin Kan

  5. George Than Setkyar Heine

    Hey, Rohingyas are NO NATIVES of BURMA hence, they have NO RIGHT much less CAUSE to CALL/CLAIM for the CITIZENSHIP of the country since day one until today.
    Decades, most likely half a century of NEGLECT and CORRUPTION RUNNING RAMPANT under successive military rules led to LACK of BORDER SECURITY culminated in Bangalis CROSSING the BORDERS at WILL and ILLEGALLY as well and SETTLING in the land of the Arakans obviously.
    The Bangali Muslims SHOWED their HAND – pushed for ethnicity and citizenship –  in CONCERT and CONSENSUS with the backing of the likes of OIC and other Islamic organizations and countries like UK and others calling for CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS for the FENCE JUMPING Rohingyas today.
    These IRRELEVANT and UNWARRANTED CALLS in the form IMPOSING PRESSURE on Thein Sein on the part of the Islamic organizations and countries in cohorts with the Islamists are INFRINGING/INSULTING the SOVEREIGNTY and TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY of Burma in addition to MEDDLING IN THE INTERNAL AFFAIRS of the country no less I say.
    Putting pressure on Thein Sein holds no water as well because the PEOPLE of BURMA say ROHINGYA are NO NATIVES of BURMA and HAVE NO RIGHT to CLAIM the CITIZENSHIP of the country as they are ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS from neighboring Bangladesh not to mention the NATIVE RAKHINES saying THEY DON’T WANT to COEXIST with the ALIENS in the first and last place as well lest Hague and his ilk forget.

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