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By Madalena Araujo, CNN
Myanmar’s Ambassador to the UK acknowledged the long-persecuted Muslim minority Rohingya “are people” on Thursday in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
“Yes, they are people. But we [do] not accept the title… the ‘Rohingya’,” Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn said.
Myanmar’s government refuses to recognize the term Rohingya, calling them instead Bengali and saying they are illegal immigrants, despite the fact that many have been in the country for generations. It has also denied them the right to citizenship.
Amanpour highlighted that even the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon urged Myanmar to let the ethnic group be called whatever they want.
As President Barack Obama prepares to visit Myanmar next week for the East Asia and ASEAN Summits, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for human rights and labor said the Administration is not expecting a major leap forward any time soon.
“I don't think we're going to see breakthroughs in the short term. Burma was an opening to a breakthrough and it's one that we always knew would take years to move from its starting point to its finishing point. And we knew the success was not guaranteed and it is still not guaranteed,” Tom Malinowski told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.
Myanmar showed some signs of openness and reform in recent years, most notably with the release of the iconic opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in late 2010.
Yet fears that reform has stalled and the country’s disgraceful human rights record have put pressure on the international community to intervene.
By Samuel Burke & Juliet Fuisz, CNN
It is known as the Myanmar miracle.
Or that is the hope for the country of almost 50 million people tucked between Asian powerhouses India and China. Just three years ago, Myanmar was being brutally led by one of the world's most repressive military regimes; today, it is a fledgling democracy.
For decades, Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, was best known for the heroic struggle of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent more than 15 years under house arrest, separated from her husband and sons by her military jailers.
But she kept up the struggle to reform her beleaguered country and now her vision is becoming reality at a breathtaking pace.
She may be the icon of democracy in Myanmar, but her country now calls someone else the icon of reform: President Thein Sein. He is in the United States for meetings with President Obama Monday– the first time a Burmese leader has visited the White House since 1966.
"I myself am amazed at the speed of the improvement of our bilateral relations,” President Thein Sein told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in a TV exclusive on Sunday. “But there are no permanent friends or permanent foes in international relations." FULL POST
By Samuel Burke, CNN
Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the world's most revered advocates for democracy.
The repressive military regime in Myanmar kept her isolated from the world, under house arrest for almost twenty years.
In the last year her struggle finally paid off.
The country's new president, Thein Sein, freed her from detention and instituted a series of economic and political reforms – allowing her to win a seat in parliament this year.
Suu Kyi is now working with President Thein Sein – one of the ruling generals who kept her under house arrest.
“I’ve never thought that what they did to me was personal. It is politics. And if you decide to go into politics, you have to be prepared to put up with these kinds of problems. I like a lot of the generals. I’m rather inclined to liking people,” she said. That includes, surprisingly, the very people who prevented her from seeing your husband and her children. FULL POST
(CNN) - The election of Aung San Suu Kyi to Myanmar's parliament capped a remarkable turnaround for the pro-democracy campaigner, who was kept under house arrest for a total of 15 years by the country's military junta.
Suu Kyi was born in 1945, the daughter of Myanmar independence hero General Aung San - a man almost universally respected in the country, including the top ranks of the omnipresent military.
She was only two years old when her father was assassinated as the country, then known as Burma, prepared to transfer from British colonial rule. Her mother, Khin Kyi, became an active figure in the newly independent nation, eventually winning ambassadorial posts in India and Nepal. ((FULL PROFILE))
By Dan Rivers, CNN Corespondent
The military government has clearly been stung by some of my previous reporting from the country and I understood that I was on the notorious journalist "blacklist," which includes much of the Bangkok, Thailand-based press pack.
Perhaps before I explain what happened this time, I should explain my "past form" with the Junta.
When I first arrived in Bangkok in 2006, I was unknown to them. My first taste of the country many still call Burma, was in 2007 when our CNN team was officially invited to cover Armed Forces Day.
I was struck by the time-warp feeling that envelops you as you walk around the streets of Yangon, bereft of development as a result of Western sanctions, and, arguably the regime's own actions.
We covered the "set-piece" military parade in the new capital Naypyidaw, which felt more like the set of "The Truman Show." We also managed to film in a hospital in a small town outside of Yangon, and the scenes were pitiful and outrageous.
Myanmar spends less on health care than almost any other country on Earth, and it showed. After leaving, I understood that the authorities were incensed by my reporting at the hospital.
Later that year I was unable to report first hand on the pro-democracy rallies, dubbed the Saffron Revolution after the orange gowns of the monks who led the unrest. I was on air constantly from Bangkok, commentating on incredible footage emerging from citizen journalists among the crowds on the streets of Yangon. It would have no doubt further irritated the Junta.
But it was while covering the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, that I probably invoked the rage of the generals. CNN was one of the few western TV networks inside the country, and the only one to go live from the Irrawady Delta.
I felt strongly about the appalling scenes I was seeing and the obstruction of the Junta, which was blocking aid from getting to storm-ravaged areas. CNN decided to raise the profile of our coverage by allowing me to report on camera from inside the worst-affected areas.
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