Developing: Aung San Suu Kyi breaks her silence on Rohingya

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Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and effective leader of Myanmar, finally spoke out against violence in Rakhine state, but did not explicitly call out state-led violence against the Rohingya — a Muslim minority long denied citizenship despite roots in the country going back centuries.

In response to her televised speech, human rights group Amnesty International accused Suu Kyi, and her government, of “burying their heads in the sand” in response to what the United Nations has called “ethnic cleansing”.

  • Suu Kyi condemned human rights violations in Rakhine state and said that those responsible for the violence would be held accountable.
  • This was the first public address by Suu Kyi since violence by Rohingya insurgents on 25 August sparked a backlash by Myanmar’s military which retains sole jurisdiction over internal affairs and defence.
  • More than 400,000 Rohinyga, a majority Muslim population, have been forced to flee to Bangladesh over the past month.
  • The UN has compared the violence to ethnic cleansing and Suu Kyi has been repeatedly criticised for not speaking out against the military’s tactics. On September 5, she said that an “iceberg of misinformation” was skewing media coverage of the violence.
  • Speaking in the new Myanmar capital, Napyidaw today, the Nobel laureate said: “Action will be taken against all people, regardless of their religion, race and political position, who go against the law of the land and violate human rights”.
  • James Gomez, Amnesty’s director for South East Asia and the Pacific, said that the speech “amounted to little more than a mix of untruths and victim blaming”.

Read more: Analysis: Why Rohingya are world’s “most-persecuted minority”

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