Obama must keep pressure on Myanmar: Rights groups
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Activists on Monday urged US President Barack Obama to keep up pressure on Myanmar's leaders to carry out reforms and halt ethnic violence, after his historic visit to a nation which was long a pariah.
"President Obama did make some important statements and conveyed the message that he takes the human rights situation seriously. And he appropriately referred to progress as tentative," Ms Suzanne Nossel, US executive director for Amnesty International, told AFP.
"The test will be is that pressure sustained? Obviously there are a number of different imperatives behind his trip." The first US sitting president to visit the South-east Asian nation, Mr Obama also met Myanmar's reformist President Thein Sein and urged the former general to speed up the country's march out of decades of iron-fisted military rule.
"This remarkable journey has just begun, and has much further to go," he said in a speech at Yangon University. "The flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished. They must be strengthened." He also called for an end to sectarian unrest in the western state of Rakhine, saying there was "no excuse for violence against innocent people." Two major outbreaks of violence since June between stateless Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in the state have left 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.