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UK raises plight of Rohingyas with Suu Kyi

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (left) welcomes Myanmar foreign minister Aung San Suu Kyi to Downing Street in London on Tuesday. (AP)

By Prasun Sonwalkar
September 14, 2016

London -- Britain raised the “desperate situation” of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar during meetings on Monday and Tuesday with visiting state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

On her first visit to Britain after the November 2015 elections, Suu Kyi met Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Theresa May. 

The prime minister’s official spokeswoman said the meeting was an opportunity to talk about bilateral relations, “the process that’s under way in Burma and what we can do to support reconciliation and democracy and respect for human rights there.”

Britain continues to use the nomenclature of ‘Burma’ instead of ‘Myanmar’, which was adopted during the preceding military rule. 

Johnson said after meeting Suu Kyi: “The Burmese transition to democracy is a historic achievement. The courage and sacrifice of the Burmese people, not least of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi herself, has led to a major shift from military dictatorship to a more civilian, democratic and accountable government.”

Official sources said the two leaders also discussed the Panglong Peace Conference and plans for the peace process. Several human rights groups have appealed to Suu Kyi to help resolve the plight of Rohingya Muslims, who allegedly face persecution in Myanmar.

“The foreign secretary welcomed early progress in freeing political prisoners as well as the establishment of the Rakhine Commission, led by Kofi Annan, which is an important step in beginning to tackle the desperate situation of the Rohingya community there,” they added.

Johnson said: “The UK is pleased to have played an important role in bringing about Burma’s emergence from decades of repression and isolation. We remain committed to supporting Burma’s extraordinary reforms and we welcome a democratic, stable and prosperous Burma that can contribute to stability and security in South East Asia and beyond.”

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