Myanmar citizens laud State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi as they attend a public gathering to listen to her live speech yesterday at City Hall, Yangon.
Myanmar citizens laud State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi as they attend a public gathering to listen to her live speech yesterday at City Hall, Yangon. LYNN BO BO

Suu Kyi hits out at 'totally unaware' world

THE world had been waiting for Aung San Suu Kyi to address the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, but when the head of government and Nobel Peace Prize winner finally did yesterday it wasn't the response the international community wanted to hear.

Under pressure from human rights organisations to act on what has been described as "ethnic cleansing” in her country, Ms Suu Kyi fought back, saying the world was "totally unaware”.

In a mass-scale scorched- earth offensive, at least 400,000 people are in peril as they flee to safety in Bangladesh three weeks after the beginning of a campaign of fires and slaughter.

Last week it was reported that up to one million people had abandoned their homes.

But Ms Suu Kyi, in a nationally televised address, denied the scale of the operation and said she did not fear the condemnation of the international community.

She said more than half of Rohingya villages were not affected by the violence and she condemned all "unlawful violence”.

Rohingya people have lived for centuries in the western state of Rakhine, in Myanmar, but for decades have been persecuted by the government. They are not considered among the country's 135 official ethnic groups and are denied citizenship.

On August 27, it is alleged Myanmar state security forces and vigilante mobs began to commit mass killings of Rohingya Muslim men, women and children.

It was in response to an August 25 attack by Muslim militants, who attacked two dozen police and military outposts.

Myanmar's army chief justified the slaughter as "unfinished business”.

Ms Suu Kyi said it was "not the intention of her government to apportion blame or abdicate responsibility.

"There are allegations and counter allegations and we have to listen to all of them. And we have to make sure these allegations are based on solid evidence before we take action,” she said.

- Matt Young



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