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Rights group faults West for hasty praise of reformist Myanmar

Western democracies are hindering Myanmar's reforms with their hasty praise for the country's nominally civilian government, a leading human rights group said Friday.



"Burma’s reforms over the past year are hindered, not helped, by international oversell and hasty praise in the face of continued serious human rights abuses," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, referring to Myanmar by its old name.

The New York-based group acknowledged that the government of President Thein Sein had passed significant reforms last year, including allowing democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi to contest a by-election that won her and 42 other opposition politicians seats inparliament.

Thein Sein also relaxed media censorship and released about 400 political prisoners although hundreds more remained in jail.

But Human Rights Watch blasted the government for not holding Myanmar’s powerful military accountable for attacks on rebels of an ethnic group seeking greater autonomy in the northern state of Kachin and for failing to stop sectarian violence against Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine.

It also faulted the government for preventing humanitarian aid from reaching both areas, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced.

Myanmar was under military rule from 1962 to 2010. The current government came to power in 2010 elections, the first in 20 years. It is led by the pro-military Union Solidarity and Development Party and former general Thein Sein.

"No one expects that a rights-respecting democracy will arrive overnight, but Burma is still failing basic rights tests on its remaining political prisoners, blocked humanitarian aid and ensuring accountability for war crimes," Robertson said.//DPA


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