A group of Western and Asian governments are lauding Burma’s progress toward democracy but warning outbreaks of communal violence could undermine the reforms.
Foreign ministers meeting Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly said in a statement that Burma urgently needs to address the political and economic grievances of the Rohingyas, including the question of their citizenship.
The Rohingyas are a minority Muslim group that has suffered badly in sectarian clashes over the past year with majority Buddhists. Oftentimes, security forces have stood by.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said there’s much to be done to ensure accountability for the perpetrators.
In a sign of the shifting international attitudes toward Burma, the former pariah nation was for the first time invited to the “Group of Friends on Myanmar/Burma” meeting.
Representing the British government at the annual meeting of the Group of Friends of Burma at the UN General Assembly on 26 September, FCO Minister of State for Asia Hugo Swire said, “We welcome the continued engagement of the UN and its member states in Burma to help assist the country through the challenges of transition to democracy. This was an important opportunity to share that message and to welcome continued progress in Burma. We were pleased that the Burmese government attended the Group of Friends forum for the first time, evidence that they are also willing to engage.
“I stressed the importance of continued action to keep reforms on track, particularly the need to tackle violence and discrimination against Muslims and other religious minorities, to maintain progress towards nationwide peace, and to address the plight of the Rohingya community. I hope the government will support the need to reform the Constitution, a necessary undertaking if the 2015 elections are to be seen as credible.”