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US sanction policy not affected by Rohingya issue: US ambassador


The community violence in western Burma was surprising, but it hasn’t affected Washington’s views on easing sanctions, the US Ambassador to Burma said in a story in The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

Derek Mitchell speaks at the US embassy in Rangoon on July 20, 2012. Photo: Mizzima
Derek Mitchell speaks at the US embassy in Rangoon on July 20, 2012. Photo: Mizzima
“I have to say it did surprise us to the degree that there would be violence so quickly, that it would spread so terribly,” said newly appointed Ambassador Derek Mitchell. “I don’t think it affects our view on sanctions. It just means we have an even more complex challenge ahead of us in the country.”

Mitchell said much of the Rohingya conflict comes from everyday citizens, many of who would deny the Rohingyas the right to live in the country.

“It’s unfortunate when you see the depths of intolerance and discrimination….among citizens,” Mitchell said—including “people who otherwise you would think of as progressive and who have fought so long for civil rights.”

He said the community violence “had to do with the deep-seated intolerance that seemed to be within the society writ large. So I think that’s where the deep disappointment came.”

He told the newspaper that the US understands the feelings among Buddhists in western Burma that they, too, have also suffered in recent years, and that international organizations have focused too much on Rohingya concerns.

But he said the Rohingyas “are stateless."

"They have nowhere to turn," he said. "And it is not going to be lost on the international community.”

The Burmese government recently named a 27-member investigation commission that included former student activists, representatives from political parties and government critics who spent time in jail as political prisoners.

The commission is on a two-day trip to Rakhine State at this time and is expected to have a report finished by late September.
Last Updated ( Friday, 24 August 2012 12:43 )  

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