Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday addressed global criticism of her regime on the Rohingya issue saying in a state address that she condemns “all human rights violations” in the country, even as she underlined that the strikes on police outposts in August were terrorist attacks.
“After several months of seeming quiet and peace, 30 police outputs were attacked (on August 25) by armed Muslim groups. Consequently, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army was declared a terrorist group,” said Suu Kyi towards the beginning of her first address to the nation since the August 25 attacks.
In a part defiant and part conciliatory address, the first to the nation since the August attacks, Suu Kyi said more than once she is committed to the “rule of law” and peace and stability “for all people”.
She said that Myanmar “does not fear international scrutiny” and added – more than once – that she invites observers to come to Myanmar and look at the situation for themselves.
Media reports, international observer organisations and human rights groups have alleged a “disproportionate army response” to the August attacks, which many say were carried out by a small group of people, a far cry from the “terrorist strike” the Myanmar government is making it out to seem.
Suu Kyi, whose official title is State Counsellor, said it was important to understand why not all areas in Myanmar have been affected. She said “peace and stability is something we had to achieve after nearly 70 years of internal conflict” and claimed that many Muslim villagers have remained in Myanmar and have not fled. The UN estimates more than 400,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the army’s response to the August attacks.
“Our government has emerged as a body committed to the defence of human rights, all within the borders of our country. We condemn all human rights violations, Myanmar is committed to peace and rule of law,” said Suu Kyi.
She spoke about “allegations and counter-allegations”, in a clear reference to global rights groups saying the Myanmar army is committing human rights abuses. She spoke about feeling deeply for the suffering of “all groups” in Rakhine, the area where most of the Rohingya live. And she said her country is “complex “, indicating that it is hard “to overcome all the challenges in shortest time possible”, as people around the world may be expecting her to do.
About the more than 400,000 mainly-Muslim Rohingya who’ve fled for Bangladesh, Suu Kyi said she is “concerned to hear” about them. She also said Myanmar is “prepared to start a refugee verification process for those who wish to return” from Bangladesh.
“We would like to find out why this exodus is happening, we would like to talk to the people who have fled. The government has been making every effort to restore peace and stability and to bring harmony in Rakhine communities,” she said, reports Times of India.