Obama says Myanmar needs to end discrimination to succeed

02 June 2015
Obama says Myanmar needs to end discrimination to succeed
US President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a town hall meeting with with a group of 75 young Southeast Asian Leaders on themes of civic engagement, environment and natural resources management and entrepreneurship in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 01 June 2015. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday Myanmar needs to end discrimination against Rohingya people if it wants to succeed in its transition to a democracy, Reuters reported on 1 June.
Speaking to young Asians invited to the White House, Obama said the United States was focused on making sure Rohingya who have been subject to human trafficking or were adrift at sea were relocated.
He commended Indonesia and Malaysia for taking thousands of those displaced and said the United States would also take some.
But following on from a question about what was required for Myanmar to succeed in its U.S.-backed transition from decades of military rule, he said:
“I think one of the most important things is to put an end to discrimination against people because of what they look like or what their faith is. And the Rohingya have been discriminated against. And that’s part of the reason they’re fleeing.”
Obama has invested significant personal effort and prestige in promoting democracy in Myanmar, traveling there twice in the past three years to push what he has hoped to be a legacy issue and an element of his strategic rebalance to Asia in the face of a rising China.
However, concerns have grown in Washington about a slowing of reform and the treatment of the Rohingya, a minority living in apartheid-like conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Myanmar denies discriminating against the Muslim minority, but more than 100,000 have fled persecution and poverty since 2012.