Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi reached out to the global community Tuesday in a broad appeal for support over a refugee crisis the UN has decried as “ethnic cleansing”, urging outsiders to help her nation unite across religious and ethnic lines and offering a pathway back to the country for some of the Rohingya Muslims forced to flee by army operations.
Breaking her silence on the crisis, Aung San Suu Kyi said she is ‘concerned’ over Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh.
Suu Kyi said she “feels deeply” for the suffering of “all people” caught up in conflict scorching through Rakhine state, her first comments on a crisis that also mentioned Muslims displaced by violence.
“We are concerned to hear the number of Muslims fleeing areas to Bangladesh,” she added in the live TV address, condemning any “human rights violations” that may have exacerbated the crisis.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has come under increased criticism over the past month as more than 410,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh, escaping what the UN has described as “ethnic cleansing”.
Leaders from the UK, US, France, Canada and Australia had urged Suu Kyi to push for an end to violence against the Rohingya.
In her address, Suu Kyi said that Myanmar does not fear “international scrutiny” over the Rohingya crisis, inviting outside observers to come see the problems in person.
Suu Kyi said that her country stood ready “at any time” to verify the status of the Rohingya who have fled violence in the last month to aid the return of those eligible for resettlement.
“We are prepared to start the verification process at any time,” she said referring to those who have fled in the unprecedented exodus to Bangladesh, without guaranteeing a return for all of the refugees.