Tokyo, 9 Jumadil Akhir 1434/18 April 2013 (MINA) – Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democracy icon has lamented restrictions and estrangement of Muslims, calling for reforming citizenship laws to help the sizable minority to feel more secure in the Buddhist country, Wednesday (17/4).
“I’ve met some Muslim leaders very recently. It is very sad, because none of them has been to any other country apart from Burma (Myanmar),” Suu Kyi told a press conference on her visit to Japan.On Islam report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
“This is a very sad state of affairs. We must learn to accommodate those with different views from ours,” she added.
Burmese Muslims have faced repeated bouts of sectarian violence in the Buddhist-majority country.
Earlier this month, more than 43 people were killed and several mosques burnt in sectarian attacks in central Burma after an argument between a Buddhist couple and gold shop owners in Meiktila.
The violence followed attacks on Bengali-ethnic Muslims, known as Rohingya, in a deadly bout of sectarian clashes in western Burma.
Burma’s Muslims — largely of Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi descent — account for an estimated four percent of the roughly 60 million population.
Muslims entered Burma en masse for the first time as indentured laborers from the Indian subcontinent during British colonial rule, which ended in 1948. But despite their long history, they have never fully been integrated into the country.
The Nobel laureate called for reforming citizenship laws in Burma to help accommodate Muslims. “Every country has the responsibility to consider the possibility that the (citizenship) laws are not in keeping with international standards,” Suu Kyi told reporters. “The Burmese government should have the courage to do.”
Rohingya Muslims have been denied citizenship rights since an amendment to the citizenship laws in 1982 and are treated as illegal immigrants in their own home.
The media reported the Burmese government as well as the Buddhist majority refuse to recognize the term “Rohingya”, referring to them as “Bengalis”.
Suu Kyi has earned the ire of Muslims for failing to speak against discrimination facing the Rohingya in Burma. But the Burmese icon said she was “not a magician” and will not be able to solve long-running ethnic disputes.
“Is not just about the judiciary, it’s about the administration, it’s about the government, it’s about our police force, it’s about the training that we give to security forces,” she told students at Tokyo University.
She added that Burma’s courts do not meet democratic standards as they are totally dominated by the executive. “They wanted me to talk about how to make these communal differences disappear. I’m not a magician,” she said. “Differences take a long time to sort out.”
“We have to establish an atmosphere of security in which people with different opinions can sit down and exchange ideas and think of the things we have in common,” the icon said. (T/P09/P03)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)