US defies Myanmar government request to stop using term Rohingya

The new ambassador of the United States to Myanmar said he would keep using the term Rohingya for the persecuted Muslim minority, even after the government – controlled by Nobel prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi – asked him to refrain from it.
Members of the 1.1 million-strong group, most of whom live in desperate conditions in a remote part of northwestern Myanmar, are seen by many Myanmar Buddhists as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The term Rohingya is a divisive issue.
Scot Marciel took over as the head of the US mission at a critical time after Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in historic elections, following decades of pro-democracy struggle.
“The normal US practice and the normal international practice is that communities anywhere have the right, or have the ability, to decide what they are going to be called,” Marciel said on Tuesday, in response to a question on whether he intended to continue using the term Rohingya.
“And normally when that happens, we would call them what they asked to be called. It’s not a political decision, it’s just a normal practice.”
He added that this had been Washington’s policy before and the administration intended to stick to it.
Feted by many in the west for her role as champion of Myanmar’s democracy movement during long years of military rule, Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticised overseas, and by some in Myanmar, for saying little about the abuses faced by the Rohingya.
Speaking out for the group would carry a political cost at home. The group is widely disliked in Myanmar, including by some in the NLD and its supporters, and she would risk losing support by taking up the cause of the beleaguered minority.
Because Myanmar does not officially recognise the Rohingya as an ethnic group, it denies most of them citizenship and basic rights. Conflict over land and resources in the western state of Rakhine, where most Rohingya live in squalid camps, caused deadly violence between Buddhists and Muslims, which later spread to other parts of the country.
More than 100,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee their homes and now live in poor conditions in decrepit camps for internally displaced people
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Source: Islamic News Daily

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