Respect for human rights essential: Carter

Former US President Jimmy Carter speaks in Yangon on April 5. Photo: AFP“Respect for human rights must be a cornerstone of Myanmar’s political transition process,” Mr Carter told a crowd of hundreds at Parkroyal Hotel in Yangon on April 5.
“I am deeply concerned about the recent religious violence,” he said, referring to clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in Meiktila that left at least 40 people dead. “The recent violence risks damaging the reputation that you have gained in your country just as you’re trying to rebuild it once again.”
He said he was “saddened” to hear of the conflicts in Kachin and Shan states and called on the government to address the grievances of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities.
“The international community now stands with you. It supports a Myanmar that is diverse, tolerant, multi-ethnic and multi-religious,” he said.
“No people should ever be treated as inferior by the government or by other citizens,” he said, referring to the thousands of displaced people, mostly Muslims, in Rakhine State.
Mr Carter said he was “disturbed” by reports of “hate speech by some prominent people, even religious leaders”.

Respect for human rights essential: Carter By Zaw Win Than   |   Monday, 08 April 2013

Former US President Jimmy Carter has stressed the importance of respect for human rights in strengthening the transition to democracy, and expressed concern over recent communal violence.

Former US President Jimmy Carter speaks in Yangon on April 5. Photo: AFP

“Respect for human rights must be a cornerstone of Myanmar’s political transition process,” Mr Carter told a crowd of hundreds at Parkroyal Hotel in Yangon on April 5.

“I am deeply concerned about the recent religious violence,” he said, referring to clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in Meiktila that left at least 40 people dead. “The recent violence risks damaging the reputation that you have gained in your country just as you’re trying to rebuild it once again.”

He said he was “saddened” to hear of the conflicts in Kachin and Shan states and called on the government to address the grievances of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities.

“The international community now stands with you. It supports a Myanmar that is diverse, tolerant, multi-ethnic and multi-religious,” he said.

“No people should ever be treated as inferior by the government or by other citizens,” he said, referring to the thousands of displaced people, mostly Muslims, in Rakhine State.

Mr Carter said he was “disturbed” by reports of “hate speech by some prominent people, even religious leaders”.

In his discussions with the president about the reform process on March 3, Mr Carter said he told U Thein Sein that “mutual respect, tolerance and open-mindedness are the basis for a democratic society”.

“I am filled with admiration for your nation’s political leaders,” Mr Carter said, praising the government for initiating and sustaining reforms since coming to office in March 2011.

“In order to ensure the continued success of the reform process, it is important for everyone to speak honestly and directly about the serious challenges that still exist. It’s a mistake to try and cover up challenges.”

Since leaving the White House in 1981, Mr Carter has maintained a rigorous schedule of supporting peace efforts and anti-poverty programs around the world. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development”.

He has also observed democratic elections in 94 countries and said that he would like to come back for Myanmar’s next general election, in 2015 – “if we are invited”.

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