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US Seeks an End to Communal Violence in Burma

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Recognizing the mutual mistrust between the government and ethnic minority groups the runs deep in Burma, the United States of America today announced that is seeking an end to the communal violence engulfing the country.

In her remarks on "Burma's Rohingya: Beyond the Communal Violence" in Washington DC, Assistant Secretary Anne C. Richard for Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration says the June 2012 ethnic and sectarian violence in Rakhine State demonstrates the divisiveness in Burma cultivated over many decades.

"This will need to be overcome if the Burmese are to achieve lasting peace and genuine national reconciliation." -Ms. Richard

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A girl from the Padaung minority, one of the many ethnic groups that make up Burma's population. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
U.S. Government is seeking an end to the violence and want the Burmese to establish a serious dialogue on fundamental political issues, she added.

Part of US role in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration is to provide aid to refugees and displaced people, she stressed.

According to Ms. Richard, in fiscal year 2012, the US governmenr provided almost $24 million to its international organization and non-governmental organization partners to support protection and humanitarian assistance programs for Burmese refugees and asylum seekers residing in neighboring countries and conflict-affected populations inside Burma.

"And we are looking at future opportunities to support humanitarian efforts inside." -Ms. Richard

She cites that her Bureau has also benefited from increased openness and unprecedented access, with their staff members being able to travel to places that previously had been off limits.

In June this year, ethnic and sectarian violence has hit western Myanmar leading to violent riots among Muslims and Buddhists.

Reports say Burmese army troops were deployed to Rakhine State to halt the escalation of violence.

The situation in Rakhine State is reportedly very critical and unstable.

Unrest raged after security forces reportedly opened fire on Rohingyas and several of them were killed.

Rakhine State is home to large numbers of Rohingya, a Muslim group known as the world's most persecuted minorities.

The United States has expressed deep concern about reports of ongoing ethnic and sectarian violence.

The Burmese Government announced a State of Emergency and curfews in Rakhine State, but reports of violence continue.

The international community has called on authorities to work with local leaders, together with Muslim, Buddhist, and ethnic representatives, including Rohingya, to halt the on-going violence.

The United States has welcomed Burma's recent reform efforts and the important steps President Thein Sein, Aung San Suu Kyi, and other leaders inside and outside of government have taken.

The situation in Rakhine State underscores the critical need for mutual respect among all ethnic and religious groups and for serious efforts to achieve national reconciliation in Burma.

In April this year, following the formation of a new government in March 2011, Burma made remarkable progress in political, economic, and social development, and national reconciliation.

Positive changes have emerged, ranging from the release of political prisoners, to new legislation expanding the rights of political and civic association, and a nascent process toward ceasefires with several ethnic armed groups.

Although the US assesses this nascent opening as real and significant, the US government also believes it is fragile and reversible. The impact of Burma's reform efforts has not extended far beyond the capital and major cities. This is particularly true in ethnic minority areas: Fighting continues in Kachin State, coupled with reports of severe human rights violations, according to the US government.

In Rakhine State, systematic discrimination and denial of human rights against ethnic Rohingya remains deplorable, Mrs Clinton said.

The election of Aung San Suu Kyi and 42 other NLD members is the most recent and dramatic example of the political opening underway in Burma.

Recently, the Burmese government released over 500 political prisoners in October 2011 and January 2012 amnesties.

The Burmese government has also made progress toward preliminary ceasefire agreements with several ethnic armed groups including the Chin National Front (January 2012), the New Mon State Party (February 2012), the United Wa State Army (September 2011), and the Shan State Army-North (January 2012), Mr. Campbell reported.

For the first time in 63 years, the Burmese government and the Karen National Union (KNU) entered into a preliminary ceasefire agreement in January 2012, and began follow-up peace discussions the week of April 4 on a host of political issues at the heart of Burma's longest running internal conflict.

The Burmese government is proceeding with a strong program of economic reforms. After decades of mismanagement, Burma has become the poorest country in Southeast Asia, with approximately one-third of its population living in poverty.

The United States plans to engage the Burmese government to apply non-discrimination principles and to create a "level playing field" for foreign investors.

In 2011, the United States carefully responded to evidence of change in Burma with increased outreach and concrete actions. Important steps were taken on the assistance front, with recent announcements of new activities for microfinance and health, particularly in ethnic minority areas, based on US consultations with civil society in Burma.

The United States has serious and continuing concerns with respect to human rights, democracy, and nonproliferation, and the policy continues to blend both pressure and engagement to encourage progress in all areas. They are especially concerned by serious human rights violations against the ethnic minority Rohingya people, who are denied citizenship and human rights, such as freedom of movement and freedom to marry, among other rights all people should be able to exercise.

As Burma pursues the road for reform, development and democracy, the United States of America expressed commitment to support Burma's democratic reforms.

In DC, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said from the beginning of the Obama Administration, the US government has pursued a policy of engagement to support human rights and reform in Burma.

The United States maintains extensive, targeted sanctions against the Burmese regime. Sanctions is also targeted against senior leaders of the Burmese government and military, their immediate family members, their key supporters, and others who abuse human rights.

The Obama Administration continues to show commitment to promote democracy and human rights in Burma and on key recent developments in Burma, including the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, the 2010 elections, and the formation of a government headed by former top regime general and now President Thein Sein.

The United States is currently pursuing parallel and complementary tracks in a full-scale effort to advance progress on core concerns of the international community, including the unconditional release of all political prisoners, respect for human rights, and an inclusive dialogue with the political opposition and ethnic groups that would lead to national reconciliation.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain english. Read more stories by Mina Fabulous. Contact Mina through NewsBlaze.

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