Monday, 5 November 2012

Britain urges Myanmar to resolve Rohingya issue

Rohingya women outside their tents at the Dabang Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, located on the outskirts of Sittwe.(AFP - Christophe Archambault)

 VIENTIANE: Britain on Monday called on Myanmar to resolve the citizenship status of Rohingyas caught up in deadly sectarian violence.

"We would like the problems, the unresolved problems of the status of the Rohingya people to be addressed by the leaders in Burma across politics," British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters in Laos.

"That's an issue of major concern for us. I'll certainly raise that with the Burma leaders here when I have the opportunity to do so," he said ahead of a summit bringing together dozens of leaders from Asia and Europe, including Myanmar President Thein Sein, in the Laos capital Vientiane.

Dozens of people have been killed and more than 100,000 displaced since June by clashes between ethnic Rakhines and Rohingyas in the country, casting a shadow over a string of political reforms.

Myanmar's 800,000 stateless Rohingya are seen by the government and many in the country as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. They face severe discrimination that activists say has led to a deepening alienation.

The Rohingya, who make up the vast majority of those displaced in Rakhine state, are described by the UN as among the world's most persecuted minorities.

Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has disappointed international rights activists with her muted response to the violence, said on Saturday that she would not use "moral leadership" to back the Rohingya.

"I know that people want me to take one side or the other so both sides are displeased because I will not take a stand with them," she told the BBC.

Asked whether Suu Kyi should take a clearer position, Hague said: "I'm not singling anybody out. I hope across Burmese politics... this will be addressed by the opposition as well as by the government."

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