Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi told Voice of America Tuesday that communal tensions involving the country's minority Muslim population will be "difficult to dissipate in a short period of time."
"Human rights must be protected by the rule of law and there can never be occasions where human rights can be neglected or ignored," the Nobel Peace Prize winner said.
The pro-democracy leader made the comments during an exclusive interview at VOA's headquarters in Washington, where she also met with top U.S. international broadcasting officials and journalists from the Burmese language service .
"It is an extraordinary honor to have such a distinguished guest visit us," said VOA Director David Ensor, who assured the Nobel laureate "that VOA will continue to provide the kind of quality journalism that has made the station the most popular international broadcaster in Burma."
During her English language interview, Aung San Suu Kyi said her country needs to continue on the path of political and economic reform. "We need to find out what we have to do in order to keep the democratization process on track," she said. "Economic reforms have to be taken one by one. You see, it's not just speed that's important, it's sequencing as well."
The Burmese opposition leader said, "I always listen to VOA in the morning at 5:30. VOA world news is very useful for me especially, and I like the media roundup, Burma in the News ."
In addition to VOA Director Ensor, the opposition leader also met with BBG Governors Victor Ashe nd Michael Meehan, and International Broadcasting Bureau Director Richard Lobo.
Earlier this year, VOA and the long-isolated Burmese government reached a breakthrough agreement that allows VOA English teaching programs to air on state run radio and TV.
Burma, which was renamed Myanmar by military rulers following the suppression of pro-democracy protests in 1988, has been liberalizing since late last year, and has recently moved to ease restrictions on the media.
VOA's Burmese Service, which provides news and information on radio, television, the Internet and on mobile, began airing a half-hour TV program earlier this year, and has a wide variety of English language teaching programs available as podcasts.
VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of about 141 million people.
(VOA Press Release)
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