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Rohingya Crisis ‘Could Have Been Handled Better,’ Aung San Suu Kyi Says

HANOI, Vietnam — Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s civilian leader, on Thursday sidestepped widespread accusations that her country’s military had unleashed ethnic cleansing on Rohingya Muslims, a campaign so brutal that the United Nations has recommended that top commanders be tried for genocide.

“There are, of course, ways in which, with hindsight, we might think that the situation could have been handled better, but we believe that for the sake of long-term stability and security, we have to be fair to all sides,” Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi said in a rare appearance at an international forum, in Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital.

Since August of last year, more than 800,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighboring Bangladesh amid a frenzy of executions, rapes and village burnings in the north of Arakan (Rakhine) State in Myanmar. International human rights groups have extensively documented the way Myanmar’s military organized the bloodshed, in which at least 40,000 people were killed, according to a United Nations estimate.


Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s civilian leader, at a forum in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week. She said in a Thursday speech that “we have to be fair to all sides” in Rakhine State. Image: AP

But Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi declined to criticize what she delicately referred to as “the military aspect” in her talk at the World Economic Forum on Asean. Instead, she chastised the international community for not focusing on violence carried out by armed Rohingya militants against members of other ethnic and religious groups in Rakhine.

“For the government, we have to be fair to all of them, even if the rest of the world is not interested,” Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi said on Thursday.

Her government has not said how many nonRohinyga have been killed over the past year in Arakan, but numbers from local officials suggest that the total figure is somewhat higher than 50.

The military’s crackdown began after Rohingya militants attacked police posts and an army station in August 2017, killing about a dozen security personnel. For years, the Rohingya have faced widespread persecution by Myanmar’s military, which has herded many into camps and restricted their access to education and health-care. Most have been stripped of their citizenship, although Arakan is their home.


Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi meeting with President Tran Dai Quang of Vietnam on Wednesday. She will not be attending the United Nations General Assembly this month; she also skipped the event last year, as outrage mounted over the atrocities carried out against the Rohingya. Image: REUTERS

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, a former dissident and Nobel Peace laureate who became Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader after her party swept elections in 2015, has been harshly criticized for failing to stop or even acknowledge the atrocities carried out against the Rohingya. Various international awards given to her for her commitment to nonviolent democratic resistance have been rescinded.

Read more from the source: New York Times

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