In an exclusive television interview with Voice of America, Burmese President Thein Sein says he wants to improve education for minority Rohingya Muslims who accuse majority Buddhists of persecuting them.
The interview, conducted in the capital, Naypyitaw, is the first to be granted to VOA by a Burmese head of state, and his first to a foreign-based Burmese language broadcaster.
Burma’s previous military-led administration, in which Thein Sein served as prime minister, banned VOA and accused it of spreading lies.
The interview follows conflicting reports about the death toll from sectarian violence that broke out in May in the western state of Rakhine.
Speaking to VOA Burmese Service chief Than Lwin Htun, President Thein Sein calls education “an important tool to help different communities live in harmony and respect human rights.”
President Thein Sein said the government is giving assistance to the victims and has asked the Burmese Human Rights Commission to investigate the unrest. He reiterated Burma’s opposition to any foreign probe of the violence.
Voice of America’s Burmese Service began airing portions of the wide-ranging interview Tuesday and will have additional reports in the coming days.
VOA’s Burmese Service, one of the most popular international broadcasters in the country, provides breaking news and information on satellite, radio, television and the Internet.
Burma, which was renamed Myanmar by military rulers following the suppression of pro-democracy protests in 1988, has been liberalizing since late last year.
Voice of America recently updated the format of its daily TV news magazine show to Burma and has English language teaching programs and podcasts available. Earlier this year, Voice of America reached a ground-breaking agreement to supply language teaching programs to Burmese state radio and television.
For more information about this release contact Kyle King at the VOA Public Relations office in Washington at (202) 203-4959, or write firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find more information about VOA at the Public Relations website, www.insidevoa.com, or at the main English language site, www.voanews.com.