Former World Leaders Urge Government To Address Religious Strife
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|Title||:||Former world leaders urge government to address religious strife|
|Description||:|| Former heads of state Jimmy Carter, Martti Ahtisaari and Gro Harlem Brundtland held a news conference in Yangon on Thursday, where they discussed their efforts to support Myanmar's political transition to democracy. |
The three former leaders are part of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders "who work together for peace and human rights", according to their website.
The group was brought together in 2007 by former South African president and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela.
This was their first visit to Myanmar.
According to a media statement issued on Thursday, they travelled to Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon to meet with President U Thein Sein and other senior officials in the government, as well as political leaders, religious leaders and civil society groups.
The statement said the Elders support Myanmar's peaceful political transition and want to "encourage decision-makers responsible for the implementation of the political reform process to make further progress".
However, at a news conference in Yangon, former US president Jimmy Carter warned that "Myanmar still has a long way to go".
In particular, he cited the treatment of Muslims in the country's northwest, who have been denied citizenship and suffered persecution.
Violence between Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority and Rakhine Buddhists in Myanmar's western province has been ongoing since June 2011.
It has resulted in the deaths of 78 people and made tens of thousand homeless.
Many in mainly Buddhist Myanmar consider the Rohingya to be illegal settlers from neighbouring Bangladesh.
They have never been recognised by the Myanmar government as citizens.
The United Nations says about 800-thousand Rohingya live in Myanmar.
"The degree of autonomy and freedom of the individual ethnic groups and states in relation to the proto-government has not yet been resolved," Carter said.
Carter also singled out Myanmar's "incredible" natural resources - including its fisheries, mining operations and land - but said that they had a history of being exploited.
"There is not an adequate law yet that deals with land issues, where the formers have control of their own land or where their land will be confiscated by large mining operations," he explained. "It's still a question, as you know, in this country. So you have challenges ahead of you."
He also said he had advised the commanding officer of the military to appoint more women.
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