President Ramos-Horta expressed concern today for the lack of substantive dialogue on the part of Myanmar officials on the widespread violence and displacement of the Muslim Rohingya in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. Ramos-Horta has been in Bangladesh meeting with both fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The subject of recent violence against the Rohingya was one of the topics discussed between the dignitaries.
Speaking from Dhaka, Ramos-Horta said that “The Rohingya people of Rakhine have faced crushing poverty and persecution due to their religion and ethnic background. There cannot be any argument whatsoever justifying or explaining away such systematic abuse and exclusion of a particular ethnic group.
“The Buddhist majority in Myanmar, adherents of a belief system that enshrines love and compassion towards all living beings, including animals, cannot have wandered so far from their own beliefs that they would negate and persecute a significant part of their nation, their Muslim minority. It is particularly sad and worrying that in many incidents spiritual leaders, including Buddhist monks in Myanmar, have taken an active part in the violence.
“I add my voice to the other Nobel laureates, including the Nobel Women’s Initiative, who are calling for an immediate and fully inclusive reconciliation process in Rakhine State. I stand by US President Obama, who spoke for human rights supporters around the world in recent statements at the University of Yangon, when he said that ‘the Rohingya hold within themselves the same dignity as you do, and I do.’
Myanmar has been rocked by two outbreaks of fighting between Buddhists and Rohingyas since June that have left 180 people dead and more than 110,000 crammed into makeshift camps.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung Suu Kyi, who has previously stated that the citizenship issue of the Rohingya remained to be settled, said last week that illegal crossing of the shared border with Bangladesh had to be stopped “otherwise there will never be an end to the problem”.
The statement was rejected by the government of Bangladesh, the foreign ministry in Dhaka stating that the Rohingya Muslims have been living in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine for centuries.
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