Myanmar State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi has broken her silence on the Rohingya crisis in the country and has said that the government does not fear scrutiny by the international community, even as more than 4,00,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from the northern Rakhine State.
“There have been allegations and counter-allegations that need to be investigated. The government still needs to find out what the real problems are,” Suu Kyi said, in a nationally televised address, the first since an army crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority community was branded as “ethnic cleansing” by the United Nations.
Suu Kyi further stressed on the short time her government has been in power for, adding, “I am aware of the fact the world attention is focussed on the situation in the Rakhine State as a responsible member of the community of nations. Myanmar does not fear international scrutiny and is committed to bring peace and sustainable solution that will bring peace, stability and development for all communities within that state.”
“We don’t want Myanmar to be a nation divided by religious beliefs or ethnicities. Hate and fear are the main scourge and a transition for us is a transition to democracy after half a century or more of authoritarian rule. We now are in the process of nurturing our nation and yet imperfect democracy. Peace and stability have to be achieved after nearly 70 years of internal conflict that started on the day of our independence back in 1948,” she stated.
Myanmar’s de-facto leader added, “I want to share what challenges our country is facing and the steps that we are taking to overcome them. This year I shall not be travelling to New York to attend the U.N. session. People have voted for democracy. They, in fact, have entrusted to us the task of carrying out three responsibilities: democratic transition, peace, stability, and development. None of these challenges are either easy or simple.”
She further said that development has to be achieved after nurturing democratic values, establishing peace and stability and achieving sustainable development. “Burma is a complex nation and its complexities are compounded by the fact that people expect us to overcome all these challenges in the shortest time as possible. I must remind you that our government has not been in power for even 18 months,” she added.
“We too are concerned. We want to find out what the real problems are. We have to listen to every allegation. We have to make sure those allegations are based on solid evidence before we take any action,” she further said.
Suu Kyi added that the majority of the Rohingya villages have not been affected by violence, adding that the military, which was accused of arson and indiscriminate killing, has been instructed to exercise restraint and avoid “collateral damage.”
She also said that 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, adding, “We want to find out why this exodus is happening.”
Suu Kyi further said that an action would be taken against anyone, who goes against the law of the land or violates human rights, ‘regardless of race or political position.’
During the speech, she mentioned the Rohingyas by name only once, in reference to the armed militant group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.