Pres. Obama Risks Undermining Human Rights Progress If Unable to Deliver Strong Message in Myanmar/Burma

Press Release
November 13, 2012

Pres. Obama Risks Undermining Human Rights Progress If Unable to Deliver Strong Message in Myanmar/Burma

Amnesty Reps Urge Action in Meetings with White House Senior Advisors

Contact: Carol Gregory, cgregory@aiusa.org, 202-675-8759

Washington, D.C. – Amnesty International USA today called on President Obama to deliver an unequivocal message on human rights during an upcoming trip to Myanmar (Burma), or risk undermining human rights progress. Amnesty International will use the opportunity of a White House meeting on Myanmar on Tuesday, November 13 to spell out key elements that are necessary to ensure the President’s visit does not undercut the reform process. In order to avoid giving Myanmar authorities a free pass on grave human rights abuses still underway in the country, the President must take the following three actions:

  • Call on the government of Myanmar to release all remaining prisoners of conscience;
  • Reinforce the call of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on the Myanmar government to ensure that all Rohingyas have equal access to citizenship, end abuses of their human rights and take decisive measures to address ethnic strife in Rakhine state and ensure respect for the rights of all ethnic minorities;
  • Demand that U.S. corporations entering Burma put human rights before profits and abide by best practices on corporate social responsibility, as outlined in Amnesty International USA’s advice to U.S. businesses, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the so-called "Ruggie Principles").

"If President Obama doesn’t put his full weight behind further urgent reforms in Myanmar, this trip risks being an ill-timed Presidential pat on the back for a regime that has looked the other way as violence rages, destroying villages and communities just in the last few weeks," said Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA. "President Obama cannot treat this trip as a goodwill tour when political prisoners continue to be unjustly jailed, and 200 people have died and more than 100,000 were forced to flee over the last few months due to ethnic strife in Rakhine state. Myanmar is emerging from more than five decades of repressive military regimes, and we need the U.S. to be vigilant in its demand for freedom and justice, and not side-step human rights in its quest for new allies in the region."

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.