Obama: Myanmar needs to end “discrimination of Rohingya”
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday Myanmar needs to end discrimination against Arakan (Rohingya) people if it wants to succeed in its transition to a democracy, something he has sought to make a legacy of his presidency.
Speaking to young Asians invited to the White House, Obama said the United States was focused on making sure Arakan who have been subject to human trafficking or were adrift at sea were relocated.
He commended Indonesia and Malaysia for taking thousands of those displaced and said the United States would also take some.
But following on from a question about what was required for Myanmar to succeed in its U.S.-backed transition from decades of military rule, he said:
“I think one of the most important things is to put an end to discrimination against people because of what they look like or what their faith is. And the Arakan have been discriminated against. And that’s part of the reason they’re fleeing.”
Asked where he would want to be if he were a Arakan, he said he thought he would like to stay where he was born.
“I would want to stay in the land where my parents had lived, but I’d want to make sure that my government was protecting me and that people were treating me fairly.”
Obama has invested significant personal effort and prestige in promoting democracy in Myanmar, traveling there twice in the past three years to push what he has hoped to be a legacy issue and an element of his strategic rebalance to Asia in the face of a rising China.
Myanmar denies discriminating against the Muslim minority, but more than 100,000 have fled persecution and poverty since 2012.