US Commitments to Assisting Burma in Democratic Reform and the Prosperity Reemphasized
Washington. Director General of Arakan Rohingya Union and Chairman of the Burmese Rohingya Association of North America, Dr. Wakar Uddin, and the team of U.S. Ambassador-designate to Burma/Myanmar, HE Scot Marciel, met in the State Department in Washington on February 24, 2016 on a range of issues, including ethnic minority rights, humanitarian issues, ethnic dialogue and reconciliation, regional development, the government transition process, and other issues.
Answering to questions from Burma Times, Dr. Uddin said “The meeting was phenomenal, in my view. When the Ambassador asked me – what can we do for Burma, how can we help – I could sense the depth of enthusiasm of the U.S. Government for helping Burma during this important period and beyond”.
A major focus of the meeting was the U.S. policy on Rohingya and other ethnic minority issues. The meeting covered a number of urgent issues in Arakan, including Rohingya IDPs, human rights in Arakan, and the important roles of all the responsible political entities, including USDP and the ethnic parties, in lending their support to the new NLD-led Government in facilitating ethnic reconciliation based on mutual interests for development of Arakan state and beyond.
To questions related to policy of the new NLD-led Government on Rohingya ethnic minority, Dr. Uddin replied “It will be a mistake to have a euphoria on this. I think we, the Rohingya community, should not be so naïve to expect that the issues faced by Rohingya, Kachin, and other ethnic minorities will be solved very quickly under the new government. We should not have an unrealistic expectation from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We are mindful that there is a reality on the ground in Burma with many players – not just the NLD. Despite whatever policy the NLD might formulates, I believe that the roles of USDP and the 25% Military appointees will be pivotal on making breakthroughs in ethnic issues. As the transition to democracy continues to move forward, it is possible that the military, including the Home Ministry and Border Affairs Ministry, will start to recognize the need for durable stability and peace in Arakan, if they truly wish the country to flourish”.
To Burma Times’ question related to ethnic reconciliation in Arakan, Dr. Uddin said “During the meeting, I have expressed my optimism on finding avenues to engage with the moderate voices in Buddhist Rakhine leadership. I have emphasized that peaceful co-existence between Rohingya and Rakhine communities did exist in many townships during pre- and post-colonial periods, although it may not have been perfect; now there may be opportunities to revitalize that through mutual understanding that each community is not a threat to the other – we can be great partners again for development of Arakan and beyond”.
“We recognize that all sides within Burma and all of us abroad are looking for a solution for the common good of Arakan and the entire nation, and there is a serious need for finding a common ground; Rohingya people has much to offer for the development of the state and the country” Dr. Uddin further stated.
The Ambassador pointed out that the international community only wishes for a peaceful and prosperous Burma, and the U.S. is dedicated to assisting the country in transition to democracy and infrastructure development in education, technology, culture and socio-economics, ethnic-relations, and all other areas that serve as foundations for advancement of this country with tremendous potential for growth. The Ambassador further stated that Rohingya and ethnic issues will continue to be a priority of the U.S. Government in helping Burma in its efforts to become a prosperous nation of a multi-cultural society.
“We knew all along how deeply United States is committed to assisting Burma in its transition to democracy and help the country in bringing back the communal harmony and peace, and move forward with its tremendous potential for economic growth – our discussion during the meeting clearly reflected that” Dr. Uddin concluded.