WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States is hoping to nudge Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government on stalled reforms during a high-level human rights dialogue, yet expectations are limited as the former pariah nation enters a crucial election year.
International scrutiny of Myanmar’s rights record is intensifying as it gears up for its first nationwide vote since a repressive junta ceded power in 2011. Optimism that greeted its initial opening and release of hundreds of political prisoners has faded, and skepticism is growing over its transition to democracy. The military is resisting constitutional reform and Buddhist nationalism is growing.
Top State Department human rights envoy Tom Malinowski’s trip, beginning Sunday, will coincide with a 10-day visit by UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee. She arrived this week and on Friday examined the grim conditions faced by 140,000 minority Rohingya Muslims who have been dumped in dirty camps since they were displaced in sectarian violence that began three years ago.
The government’s failure to prevent Buddhist-Muslim clashes, and continued discrimination against the stateless Rohingya are at the top of a long list of enduring human rights concerns.
During two days of talks in Naypyitaw, the capital, starting Wednesday, US officials will also discuss with Myanmar officials reforms needed to its outdated legal system, the growing problem of land grabs, and recent detentions of peaceful demonstrators and journalists.