Suu Kyi rejects foreign criticism of Myanmar on Rohingya crisis

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 20 Sep 2017 08:31:30


 

NAYPYIDAW,

Pledges to resettle some refugees but refuses to blame military for violence

AUNG San Suu Kyi said on Tuesday she does not fear global scrutiny over the Rohingya crisis, pledging to hold rights violators to account but refusing to blame the military for violence that has driven some 421,000 of the Muslim minority out of her country.


In an address timed to pre-empt likely censure of Myanmar at the UN General Assembly in New York -- delivered entirely in English and aimed squarely at an international audience -- she called for patience and understanding of the unfurling crisis in her “fragile democracy”.


She vowed to resettle some refugees but offered no solutions to stop what the UN calls army-led “ethnic cleansing” in Rakhine state, where soldiers are accused of burning Muslim Rohingya from their homes. In her 30-minute speech Suu Kyi reached out to critics who have condemned her failure to speak up for the stateless Rohingya. Myanmar stood ready she said, to repatriate refugees in accordance with a “verification” process agreed with Bangladesh in the early 1990s.


“Those who have been verified as refugees from this country will be accepted without any problems,” she added.
Without blaming any single group, Suu Kyi promised to punish anyone found guilty of abuses “regardless of their religion, race or political position”. Suu Kyi insisted army “clearance operations” finished on September 5.


But AFP reporters have seen homes on fire in the days since then, while multiple testimonies from refugees arriving in Bangladesh suggests those operations have continued.
Suu Kyi insisted Rakhine was not a state in flames. “More than 50 per cent of the villages of Muslims are intact,” she said.


Around 170 Rohingya villages have been razed, the government admits. Rights groups say satellite evidence shows the damage is more widespread.
With Rakhine in lockdown, and the government refusing to issue visas for UN investigators, independent verification is impossible. Following her speech, the UN repeated calls for “full and unfettered” access.


“It is important for us to see with our own eyes the sites of these alleged violations”, said fact-finding mission head Marzuki Darusman. Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty International said the Nobel peace laureate was
“burying her head in the sand” over documented army abuses and claims of rape, murder and the systematic clearing of scores of villages.
Supporters and observers say the 72-year-old lacks the authority to rein in the military, which ran the country for 50 years and only recently ceded limited powers to her civilian government.


“She is trying to claw back some degree of credibility with the international community, without saying too much that will get her in trouble with the (military) and Burmese people who don’t like the Rohingya in the first place,” said Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch.
Communal violence has torn through Rakhine state since Rohingya militants staged deadly attacks on police posts on August 25.


An army-led fightback has left scores dead, and sent hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya fleeing mainly Buddhist Myanmar into Bangladesh.
In less than a month just under half of Rakhine’s one- million-strong Rohingya minority has poured into Bangladesh, where they languish in overcrowded refugee camps.


Suu Kyi’s repatriation pledge “is new and significant”, said Richard Horsey, an independent analyst based in Myanmar, explaining it would in principle allow for the return of those who can prove residence in Myanmar -- rather than citizenship.


But in the monsoon-soaked shanties in Bangladesh, there was anguish among refugees over how they would meet any requirements.