US’s Kerry Presses Burma Leaders on Human Rights, Reforms

US Burma

Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks with President Thein Sein during their meeting at the Presidential hall, outside the venue of the 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Naypyidaw on Saturday. (Photo: Reuters)

NAYPYIDAW — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday pressed Burma’s political leaders on Washington’s human rights concerns and urged its President Thein Sein to step up constitutional reforms to ensure elections next year are fully credible.

Kerry, in Burma’s capital for the ASEAN Regional Forum, met Thein Sein and discussed plans for elections in 2015, concerns over the treatment of the minority Muslim Rohingya, as well as the jailing of journalists, a senior State Department official said. He also discussed these issues with Shwe Mann, the speaker of parliament and leader of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

While officials acknowledged there had been significant change in Burma during its political transition since 2011 from military rule, they also said there had been “some resistance and some slowdown” in tackling more difficult issues such as press freedom and constitutional reforms.

Kerry will meet with Burma opposition leader and international icon Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon on Sunday. She has campaigned for a change to the constitution that bars her from the presidency and gives substantial political power to unelected military members of parliament. The United States has promised to ease sanctions further if there are more reforms, including the withdrawal of the military from politics.

But U.S. officials said the lifting of remaining sanctions was unlikely until the process of reform and respect for human rights advances. “Right now the focus is entirely on bearing down on these more fundamental challenges that they are now coming face to face with,” the senior official said.

Rohingya in the Spotlight

Kerry got into “quite a few details” about the situation in Rakhine state and the minority Muslim Rohingya community, the official said. In particular, he addressed the designation of the term “Bengali” which the Rohingya see as underscoring an assertion they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even though many have lived in western Burma for generations.

“The name issue should be set aside,” the official said. “To force any community to accept a name they consider to be offensive is to invite conflict, and if the goal is to prevent conflict, then it’s better to set that aside.” Kerry also raised specific cases involving the arrest of journalists, the official added.

The senior State Department official said there was no resistance from Thein to discussing the issues. Ye Htut, Burma’s minister of information, said on Friday the government had moved in the right direction since elections in 2011 but also recognized it needed to do more.

“We don’t deny there are some challenges that we are facing,” he said, “But we are moving toward the right direction and we’re trying our best to overcome these challenges.” “People in Congress should have more understanding of our situation, and instead of blaming us, they try to find a way to help the Burma people to solve all these things,” he said.

6 Responses to US’s Kerry Presses Burma Leaders on Human Rights, Reforms

  1. Could U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry not pressure Bangladesh to take back these Bengali as they are from there?

    That would solve Myanmar’s problem with Muslims.

  2. Obama, Kerry, US and rest of the democratic and civilized world should realize and recognize that nothing has changed in Burma since March 2, 1962 except that since 2011 a superficial and cosmetic ‘change’ was affected to trick the world into removing trade sanctions, bring in much needed foreign currency, technology, removal of West’s visa ban on military brasses and their leeches and parasites, infuse foreign investments (so that military brasses and their boot lickers can make more money out of partnership), etc. etc.

    Military dropped their green uniform and donned the gay color civilian and Burmese national costume. Deep down in the core, they are still the same ruthless, dreadful, despotic and mindless gun totting soldiers bent upon two major things among many others – 1) persecute the people and instill fear AND 2) mint or loot billions of dollars out of country’s natural resources and foreign investments and stash them away in Singaporean banks.

    The world willingly and on purpose turn a blind eye to all the above because they have their own vested interests in Burma’s natural resources and use Burma as a foothold for geo-political reasons.

    Thus the Burmese military/ex-military PLUS those foreign governments and businesses who support them are actually equal parties in raping Burma of its natural resources, depriving its people of human rights and their rightful share in the pie and all crimes committed against humanity in that country.

    It is high time the US and rest of the world stand up against the current Burmese government and use lot sticks to put things right for the country and for the people.

  3. Undemocratic nargis constitution is the main problem which blocks all real reform. Cosmetic reform will not help the real change which people have been waiting for.

  4. John!


    Advise The Defrock Soldier Thein Sein and All Defrock

    Soldier’s Parliamentarian at Naypyidaw to



    Calling All Civilian to STAND FOR ELECTION ONLY……

    No Defrock Soldiers and Military Background to STAND FOR ELECTION

    That Will Be A Land Mark Election


    Long Live Burma……

  5. John!

    “Men, women, and children

    who say,

    “Our Lord,take us of this city

    of oppressive people

    and appoint for us from

    Yourself a protector and appoint

    for us from Yourself a helper?”

    Muslim in Palestine and Christian and Muslim

    from Burma……


  6. Even Lord Buddha or God cannot change their attitude for more than half a century, who is John Kerry to change their lying habit.

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