Burmese activists dismayed at Obama's invitation to Thein Sein (Click for article)

A prominent pro-democracy Burmese rights organisation in the US today expressed its dismay at President Barack Obama's decision to invite Myanmar's President Thein Sein to the White House, saying America is honouring an abusive leader.

The first head of State of Myanmar to visit the White House in five decades, Thein Sein is scheduled to meet Obama at the Oval Office on May 20, a presidential spokesman announced yesterday.

However, a Washington-based prominent Burmese group feels that this is not the right time to invite Thein Sein.

"Instead of retracting previous concessions or freezing new concessions on the condition that the government stops abusing the Rohingya, the Kachin, Muslims, and others," said the US Campaign for Burma executive director Jennifer Quigley.

"The Obama Administration has responded disproportionately by granting more concessions. President Obama is sending the message that crimes against humanity by state forces against ethnic and religious minorities in Burma will be ignored by his Administration," Quigley said.

In its statement, USCB said Inviting Thein Sein reinforces the message of a positive US-Burma relationship while human rights violations escalate and rampant impunity in Thein Sein's government is condoned.

"US concessions have thus helped embolden actors in the Burmese government who discover that human rights abuses are no longer disciplined by the US, and thus no longer fiscally problematic," it said.

"The US Administration, instead of honoring an abusive leader, should tie its concessions to conditions, including curbing the anti-Muslim violence, pursuing justice and accountability, allowing humanitarian aid to reach IDPs, and halting military assaults against ethnic groups," USCB said.