TEHRAN, Sep. 19 (Press Shia) – The leader of Myanmar addressed the public after keeping hush from the break-out of violence against Rohingya minority in Rakhin state of Myanmar.
While the Burmese world-known figure, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, refused to touch upon what the UN high commissioner labeled as a text book example of genocide, after the new rounds of atrocities since August 25 forced more than 300,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh, she broke the silence today, September 19, in a public address which has been described as ‘burying head in the sand’ by Amnesty International.
Poppy McPherson of British Daily the Guardian, recounts the story as it comes in the following:
Aung San Suu Kyi has broken her silence on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, saying she does not “fear international scrutiny” and the government was still assessing allegations of atrocities.
In her first public address since a bloody army crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority that has been branded “ethnic cleansing” by the United Nations, the Nobel laureate stressed the short time her government had been in power.
“I’m aware of the fact that the world’s attention is focused on the situation in Rakhine state. As a responsible member of the community of nations Myanmar does not fear international scrutiny,” she said.
“We too are concerned. We want to find out what the real problems are. There have been allegations and counter-allegations. We have to listen to all of them. We have to make sure those allegations are based on solid evidence before we take action,” she said in the capital, Naypyidaw.
Aung San Suu Kyi claimed the majority of Rohingya villages had not been affected by violence. She refrained from criticizing the military – which has been accused of arson and indiscriminate killing – but said it had been instructed to exercise restraint and avoid “collateral damage”.
Amnesty International said Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech showed that the leader and her government were “burying their heads in the sand over the horrors unfolding in Rakhine state”.
“Aung San Suu Kyi’s claims that her government does not fear international scrutiny ring hollow,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s regional director for south-east Asia. “If Myanmar has nothing to hide, it should allow UN investigators into the country, including Rakhine state. The government must also urgently allow humanitarian actors full and unfettered access to all areas and people in need in the region.”
Aung San Suu Kyi’s comments lie in stark contrast to the testimony of refugees in neighbouring Bangladesh who describe a brutal campaign of army attacks on civilians, while satellite imagery shows scores of Rohingya villages devastated by burning.
Until now, Aung San Suu Kyi has not spoken publicly about the crisis since fresh violence broke out on 25 August, although in a phone call to the Turkish president she said “terrorists” were behind an “iceberg of misinformation” about the situation.
Striking a less aggressive but defiant tone in her 30-minute televised speech, she said she was “deeply concerned” about the suffering of people caught up in the conflict.
“We are concerned to hear that numbers of Muslims are fleeing across the border to Bangladesh,” she said. “We want to find out why this exodus is happening.”
Aung San Suu Kyi said her country stood ready “at any time” to take back refugees subject to a “verification” process. However, it was not immediately clear how many of the Rohingya who have fled Myanmar would qualify to return as most are not treated as citizens.
Meanwhile, the head of a United Nations investigation into violence in Myanmar asked the UN human rights council for more time to examine allegations of mass killings, torture, sexual violence, the use of landmines, and the burning of villages.
“We will go where the evidence leads us,” the fact-finding mission’s chairman, Marzuki Darusman, said on Tuesday, before requesting a six-month extension of the investigation to September 2018.
Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, Htin Lynn, said Darusman’s investigation was “not a helpful course of action” and Myanmar was taking proportionate security measures against terrorists and was making efforts to restore peace.
During her speech, Aung San Suu Kyi mentioned the Rohingya by name only once, in reference to the armed militant group the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. Many in majority-Buddhist Myanmar – including several influential Islamophobic Buddhist monks – say the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been widely criticized – including by fellow Nobel laureates – for failing to speak out against violence targeting the long-oppressed Rohingya.
The 72-year-old de facto leader urged the world to see Myanmar as a whole and said it was “sad” that the international community was concentrated on one among the country’s many problems.
Her refusal to defend the Rohingya and condemn army operations that have caused nearly 400,000 to flee to Bangladesh has perplexed many of her supporters across the globe who idolised the Oxford-educated laureate for her long struggle against military rule.
Following years of communal violence between persecuted Rohingya and Rakhine Buddhists, the latest wave of violence flared in August when security forces launched a huge counter-offensive in response to coordinated attacks by Rohingya militants.
The killings have displaced a further 30,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus.
Aung San Suu Kyi cancelled a planned visit to the UN general assembly in New York and her spokesman Zaw Htay told reporters before Tuesday’s speech that she would “tell the world the real truth”.