Own reforms, Elders tell Myanmar

Sept. 26, 2013 at 10:48 AM
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NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Myanmar needs to take ownership of its own peace initiatives if it's to have any real expectations for the future, members of The Elders said.

Myanmar has received praised from members of the international community for a series of democratic reforms that began with general elections in 2010. Its human rights record and ongoing ethnic conflicts, however, have been a source of concern.

Members of The Elders, a non-governmental group advocating for human rights, paid a visit to the country to survey the prospects for durable peace.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Myanmar is developing into an open society, adding the recent release of political prisoners was encouraging.

"We trust there will be no political prisoners by the end of the year, as the President [Thein Sein] has pledged," he said in a statement Thursday.

The Myanmar government declared a state of emergency March 22 following clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in Meiktila. At least 32 people died in the violence and another 39 were injured.

Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari said Myanmar shouldn't turn a blind eye to ethnic violence in the country.

"For Myanmar to reap the benefits of peace, careful attention will need to be given to how the factors underlying conflict are managed," he said.

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