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Carter, Elders Call for End to Burma Violence

  • VOA News

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter speaks during news conference in Rangoon, Sept. 26, 2013.

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter speaks during news conference in Rangoon, Sept. 26, 2013.

Jimmy Carter and other former world leaders known as "The Elders" have called on Burma to end violence against the country's minority Muslim population.

Before ending a three day visit to Burma in Rangoon Thursday, the former U.S. president said the problem cannot be ignored.

“Myanmar [Burma] still has a long way to go," he said. "I mentioned one problem, obviously, with the treatment of the Muslim citizens in the northwest, near Bangladesh, as you know. The citizenship for them has to be addressed. I think we still have a long way to go in getting political dialogue to build on the ceasefires."

Violence last year between Muslims and Buddhists left more than 200 dead and more than 100,000 homeless, mostly from the minority Rohingya community.

Carter, former Finish President Martti Ahtisaari and former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Bruntland met this week with Burmese President Thein Sein, religious leaders and civil society groups.

The former U.S. president said he is impressed with the pace of political reforms, saying the release of political prisoners is particularly encouraging.

"My suggestion is to keep the progress going. Opening up opportunities for every citizen to feel they are equal to every other citizen in this country," he said.

South African President Nelson Mandela formed The Elders in 2007 to promote peace and human rights.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.

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