News / Asia

Burma's President Tells VOA He Will Open Schools for Rohingya

Burmese President Thein Sein says his government will open schools to improve the education of minority Rohingya Muslims who accuse the majority Buddhist state of persecuting them.

In an exclusive interview with VOA Burmese Service chief Than Lwin Htun in Naypyidaw, Thein Sein called education an important tool to help different communities live in harmony and respect human rights.

He said Bengalis - his term for the Rohingya - have only religious schools and lack what he called "proper education."

"So we will open schools for them and give them modern education," he said. "And once they become educated, they will be more thoughtful and can decide what is right and what is wrong."

Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape religious violence, sit in a boat after being intercepted crossing the Naf River by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh, June 13, 2012.Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape religious violence, sit in a boat after being intercepted crossing the Naf River by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh, June 13, 2012.
x
Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape religious violence, sit in a boat after being intercepted crossing the Naf River by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh, June 13, 2012.
Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape religious violence, sit in a boat after being intercepted crossing the Naf River by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh, June 13, 2012.
The Burmese government refuses to recognize the country's estimated 800,000 Rohingya Muslims as an ethnic group and denies them citizenship. Many Burmese consider the Rohingya to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Mabrur Ahmed, the cofounder and director of Restless Beings, a British-based rights group following the Rohingya situation, welcomed the Burmese president’s school pledge but warned of segregation.

“I don’t think it’s productive for a community where there’s going to be two ethnicities living side by side and they have separate schools for each set of children. But at the same time, at the moment, the Rohingya children are not receiving any education, or very limited education up to age seven, so to have access to more education is obviously a good thing,” he said.

Related video report by Daniel Schearf

Burma’s President: Discrimination Not Cause of Rohingya Unresti
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Daniel Schearf
August 24, 2012 8:30 PM
Sectarian tensions are simmering in Burma’s west, after violence between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya left 88 people dead and thousands homeless. The Rohingya, one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, have few rights in Burma. But in an exclusive interview with VOA, Burma’s President, Thein Sein, insisted discrimination is not to blame for the tensions. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Bangkok.]]
Ahmed also said the Rohingya should be granted citizenship. He said without this, the Muslim group and other unrecognized ethnic minorities are not able to own land, get married or have children without state permission.

“Generally, the whole law needs to be overlooked [reviewed] where everyone has equal rights and there isn’t this separation of ‘pure breed’ Burmese and ethnic minority Burmese and hereditary Burmese,” he said.

Ahmed said Burma’s transition from a military-led to a semi-democratic civilian-led government is a “good, positive” step, and the president’s interview is a further sign of change.

Monday's interview is the first to be granted to VOA by a Burmese head of state. Burma's previous military-led administration, in which Mr. Thein Sein served as prime minister, banned VOA and accused it of spreading lies.

He also reiterated Burma's opposition to any foreign investigation of recent deadly sectarian violence between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in the western state of Rakhine. The Saudi-based Organization for Islamic Cooperation has called for such an investigation of the violence, which its members view as a case of religious persecution against the Rohingya.

President Thein Sein said the government is giving assistance to the victims and has asked an "independent" Burmese Human Rights Commission to investigate the unrest, which erupted in May and killed 77 people from the Rohingya and Buddhist communities. He said there is "no need" for a foreign commission to investigate the violence as an international issue.
Additional reporting by Kate Woodsome.

Editors Note: An earlier version of this story in English had President Thein Sein saying it is necessary to modify Burma's 1982 Citizenship Law. In a review of the Burmese translation of his remarks, he actually said the law should be re-implemented. VOA regrets the error.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Ali from: India
August 15, 2012 11:16 AM
How you can return back the lives of killed innocent Muslims? Is it sin to be Muslim in your country Burma??. Pls provide all the rights to Muslims too and stop discrimination and killing to Muslims.

In Response

by: Mandyswe from: Califronia
August 18, 2012 1:50 AM
Mr. Tripura, in the case of Arakan, all the victims are the real Rakhines (not the Mogh aka bamar) and Rohingyas. The Rakhines Buddhists are racially a lot closer to Rohingyas (as both have Indo-Arayan blood) unlike Mogh who are Tibetan-Burmans.

In Response

by: Mr Tripura from: India
August 16, 2012 1:40 PM
Please help your Muslims safe in Bodo land, Assam state of India first. Understand and respect your host country's people and their culture. Occupying the land from local tribes and creating the communal conflicts in Assam of India is one of the negative image of your people. Please don't think too much about Myanamar.Finally all the victims are local tribes from Assam and Rakhine from Myanmar.


by: Ali from: India
August 15, 2012 11:12 AM
How you can return back the lives of killed innocent Muslim? Is it sin to be Muslim in your country Burma??

Pls provide all the rights to Muslims too and stop discrimination and killing to Muslims.


by: Junaid from: Dhaka
August 15, 2012 5:30 AM
Finally Thein Sein admitted Rohingya were not allowed for higher education system!!


by: ashokj from: india
August 15, 2012 5:20 AM
oh ...oh..he first allows to kill people and then now opening school...he proves it tat he is politician..

In Response

by: md irfan khan from: delhi
August 15, 2012 5:41 PM
Why Bangladesh return all alive muslim to back in burma...
in my opinion Bangladesh should have help them.. new they were killed because of not getting support by any one... Bangladesh Muslim is not a Muslim if they were then off curse they should help them what shame on you all Muslim who can't help them....


by: Me
August 14, 2012 9:19 PM
Don't be fooled by his rubbish. He's committing genocide on innocent rohingya people just because they are Muslims and to the outside world he's talking about schools and education?! First he should stop the massacre of the rohingya's, rebuild their villages( that Buddhists burnt down) and let them go home and leave in peace. He said in another interview that he wants a outside country to take in the rohingya because they are not welcome in Myanmar, now he's saying he will educate them! He is hitler reincarnated. Evil evil poor excuse of a man!

In Response

by: Hasan Allah from: Bangladesh
August 15, 2012 12:59 PM
We are also so much fundamental and extremists. We, people should live with other religion buddhists, Chritians, Hindus etc. In Bodo land of Assam also, our M- image is so bad. Rohingyas, our Muslims as Muslims from other countries should show what our religion is peaceful. In this case, not only Buddhists, but also our people must have peaceful mind.


by: sunny from: Myanmar
August 14, 2012 9:13 PM
Who can give the right solution? You can give just aids and noise?
And your humanitarian or religious comments build a fire between two communities. When they are fighting, you make more noise, when there are more noise, two communities are fighting more.Stupid!


by: Robert from: Australia
August 14, 2012 8:39 PM
You should translate full version of his interview with VOA into English. By this way, everyone over the world might listen his idea and real face.

In Response

by: mandyswe from: US
August 19, 2012 6:39 PM
His initial idea stemmed from his racist mindset was to see whether other nations would take the Rohingyas. Now that OIC is getting involved and Indonesians are protesting in front of Burmese Embassy and Mahatir Mohammad of Malaysia has made statements, he is acting benevolent about opening schools but not without insult as if Rohingyas are the ones who committed the crimes because they didn't know what's right and what's wrong. He kept calling these people Bengalis. And he is college-educated.


by: USA from: USA
August 14, 2012 3:27 PM
I thought Bhudist's were peaceful but from their actions they seem more like savages. Uneducated people are the worst of mankind. This is but a plain example.

In Response

by: Peter from: USA
August 16, 2012 12:54 PM
Why you have so much interest to have empathy to Rohingyas? Are you a terrorist M----who want to destroy the USA again? Do you know why US is helping in Middle east and all over the world to have democracy by cleansing M. people. Myanmar is just a poor country and she doesnot have any interest to influence and just recover from sickness.


by: Myochit from: Myanmar
August 14, 2012 1:26 PM
Dear hounorable President! You should have full courage to keep in your side. You have already told to UNHCR head to deport the Rohingyas and to keep them in refugee camp. Why you are changing your decisions? We, our ethnicities are behind you to fight the people who want to interfere our national concern/secuity. Are you scared to OIC and some M-countries? If you didn't listen to local Myanmar ethnic voice, I think that you will lose in future.

In Response

by: phoondrei from: india
August 14, 2012 10:10 PM
Myanmar's Thei Sein says about Rohingyas "And once they become educated, they will be more thoughtful and can decide what is right and what is wrong."
He does not understand that it is the educated Burmese like him who cannot decide what is right and what is wrong; which is seen by his discrimination against minorities like Rohingya.
What Myanmar needs is capacity building of its leaders so that they are able to think in terms of multi-ethnic democratic states, rather then mono-ethnic rule and ethnic cleansing.

In Response

by: Terry from: London
August 14, 2012 5:45 PM
We are happy to send financial support to the oppressed people of minority Rohingya Muslims.


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 14, 2012 12:47 PM
Maybe the president is right. These people are raw and lack tolerance due to seclusion which their religion causes them to be in. How can they learn anything when all their religion teaches them is how to hate their neighbors and kill those who do not see things in the same perspective as themselves. Yet they are the most inferior people on earth, lacking education and often acting from that complex. Well, the education program should include reformatory measures to make them human because educating them while still remain barbaric in the religion will mean long time before any results will be achieved.

In Response

by: mandyswe from: US
August 19, 2012 6:54 PM
If Rohingyas are the most inferior people on earth, why are you people so jealous. The fact is that there are many educated people among Rohingyas and they are industrious and hence you want to oppress them out of jealousy. Even the college educated president of Burma cannot hide his bias toward the Muslims and hence showed in his conversation with VOA to implyu that the Rohingyas were the ones who committed the crimes. Fortunately for him, he is saying this in burmese, not in English and hence he'd get away with it.

In Response

by: Aung Kyaw Phyo from: Myanmar
August 17, 2012 9:47 AM
you are objective ! great!

In Response

by: Abdhrur Rahman from: Bangladesh
August 15, 2012 1:08 PM
You are absolutely right! I agreed with your points.

Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid