12:00 AM, November 21, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 21, 2012

Myanmar to address Rohingya citizenship

Yangon told Obama during historic visit

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Star report

The Myanmarese government has reiterated its commitment to address the Rohingya issues including citizenship, according to US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.
“With regards to the Rohingya in the Rakhine State, they reiterated their commitment to not just calm the situation, but to address the underlying issues including returning displaced people to their home and addressing the issue of citizenship for the Rohingya,” the advisor said aboard Air Force One.

Ben Rhodes was addressing a press gaggle also joined by Press Secretary Jay Carney on way from Myanmar to Cambodia on Monday, a Whitehouse press release said. He was giving an update of US President Barrack Obama's meeting in Yangon.

Obama became the first US president to visit Myanmar and the highlight of his six-hour trip was a speech at Yangon University, which was at the heart of 1988 pro-democracy protests.
Addressing students, he called for an urge an end to sectarian unrest in the western state of Rakhine, saying there was "no excuse for violence against innocent people".
“Today, we look at the recent violence in Rakhine State that has caused so much suffering, and we see the danger of continued tensions there,” he said.
“For too long, the people of this state, including ethnic Rakhine, have faced crushing poverty and persecution. But there is no excuse for violence against innocent people. And, the Rohingya hold themselves -- hold within themselves the same dignity as you do, and I do.
“I welcome the government's commitment to address the issues of injustice and accountability, and humanitarian access and citizenship. That's a vision that the world will support as you move forward.”
Two major outbreaks of clash since June in Rakhine state have left 180 people dead and more than 1,10,000 displaced. Most of those who fled their homes were stateless Rohingya Muslims, who have faced decades of discrimination.
Myanmar's reformist government is under pressure to give citizenship to the Rohingya as it comes under international scrutiny, with warnings that the conflict threatens its democratic transition, AFP wrote earlier.
In his Yangon speech, Obama said every nation struggles to define citizenship. America has had great debates about these issues, and those debates continue to this day, because “we're a nation of immigrants -- people coming from every different part of the world”.
“But what we've learned in the US is that there are certain principles that are universal, apply to everybody no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what religion you practice.
“But I have confidence that as you do that you can draw on this diversity as a strength and not a weakness. Your country will be stronger because of many different cultures, but you have to seize that opportunity. You have to recognize that strength.”
“Every human being within these borders is a part of your nation's story, and you should embrace that. That's not a source of weakness, that's a source of strength -- if you recognize it,” said the US president.
After visiting Myanmar, Obama headed to Cambodia to join a meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations, in a trip that underlines the shift in US foreign policy focus to the Asia-Pacific region.

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