By M.S. Anwar
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
A United States (US) delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski, including Deputy Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Lieutenant General Anthony Crutchfield, arrived in Myanmar on June 22, 2014. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized the inclusion of Lieutenant General Anthony Crutchfield in the delegation to be “too early or premature.”
Speaking to VOA (Voice of America) Burmese Program, Brad Adams, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, said “it is really worrisome because US’ untimely attempt to be too close to Myanmar can harm Human Rights Conditions in the country. Myanmar is failing to change and improve the situation of Human Rights. In fact, there are some signs that government is trying to crawl to previous military dictatorship. For examples, the cases of political prisoners, violence on Rohingya Muslims and freedom of speech and failing to ceasefire with ethnic armed groups etc are matters of real concern. Hence, it can’t be said that they are on the right track yet.”
“Though US supports the causes of Human Rights in Myanmar, the inclusion of a Higher US Military Officer in the delegation may mean to Myanmar Government that US needs Myanmar. As a result, Myanmar Government may fail to improve Human Rights Situation. Hence, we think a delegation on this level is premature” Brad Adam added.
The delegation is to meet with civil society, representatives of ethnic groups, and political leaders to discuss Burma’s 2015 national elections, the status of reforms, and issues facing their local communities and constituencies.
In Karen and Mon States, Assistant Secretary Malinowski will meet with ethnic nationality leaders and religious community leaders to discuss how the United States can best support national reconciliation and the promotion of tolerance and diversity.
Tom Malinowski was longtime director of Human Rights Watch’s Washington office. He was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor on April 3, 2014. Therefore, this is his first high level delegation to Myanmar.
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