Published: Thu, September 13, 2018

Suu Kyi finally acknowledges Rohingya crisis missteps

Suu Kyi finally acknowledges Rohingya crisis missteps

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese leader, has defended the jailing of two journalists who investigated a massacre of Rohingya Muslims for the Reuters news agency.

Aung San Suu Kyi said that Myanmar is prepared to take those who fled back, but their return has been complicated by the fact that two governments are involved. She said their case "had nothing to do with freedom of expression at all".

As a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi's criminal silence saw many bodies withdraw their honors and accolades from her.

The military, which ruled Myanmar for almost 50 years and still shares power with the civilian authorities, kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for more than 15 years before her release in 2010.

"We just have to makes sure that we make enough progress between now and then for the people to decide that they can safely continue to give us the responsibility to look after our country", she said.

Myanmar is facing worldwide pressure over its alleged military crackdown after Rohingya militants attacked security forces in August 2017. They have accused soldiers of mass rape, murder and arson.

A United Nations fact-finding panel has called for Myanmar army chief Min Aung Hlaing and several other top generals to be prosecuted for genocide.

Zaw Htay, spokesman for the office of Myanmar's president, was not immediately available to comment on Suu Kyi's remarks.

Bangladesh's prime minister this month urged the global community to increase pressure on Myanmar to ensure the repatriation of the Rohingya.

Although Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement a year ago to begin repatriating willing Rohingya back to Rakhine, Aung San Suu Kyi blamed Bangladesh for having stymied the process, which she said was supposed to have begun in January.

"There are of course ways in which with hindsight I think the situation could have been handled better", Aung San Suu Kyi said, responding to questions during a one-on-one discussion at the World Economic Forum's regional meeting in Hanoi. "But we believe that for the sake of long-term stability and security we have to be fair to all sides. we can not pick and choose who should be protected by the rule of law".

"Many observers saw this trial as a test of freedom of the media, democracy and the rule of law in the country".

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

A provision in the country's constitution bars Suu Kyi, whose official is state counsellor, from holding the presidency or exerting control over the military.

Suu Kyi, in her first public comment on the case since the two, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were convicted last week, referred to the colonial-era law under which they were charged.

"It had to do with an Official Secrets Act", Suu Kyi said Thursday.

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