Suu Kyi condemns human rights violations in Myanmar's Rakhine (Second Lead)


Faced with a powerful military keen to have martial law declared in Rakhine State where there has been an exodus of almost a half-million people in three weeks, Myanmar's leader, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, avoided any mention of ethnic cleansing of Muslim Rohingya.

Violence erupted on August 25 when a group of Rohingya militants torched police checkpoints in Rakhine.

She said she felt "deeply" for the suffering of "all people" in the conflict but said most Rohingya had opted to stay in Burma so the situation could not be as severe as has been alleged.

More than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighboring Bangladesh in the past year, majority in the last three weeks, after security forces and allied mobs retaliated to a series of attacks by Muslim militants last month by burning down thousands of Rohingya homes in the predominantly Buddhist nation.

When she says that 50 per cent of the Muslim villages are still present in Rakhine state, what are we talking about?

Burma has rejected allegations of ethnic cleansing, claiming its security forces were carrying out clearance operations to defend against the insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which claimed responsibility for the August attacks and similar, smaller raids in October a year ago.

In her speech, Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize victor for her non-violent resistance to the military junta that used to rule Myanmar, did not mention the Rohingya specifically and only used the term in reference to the "Rohingya Salvation Army".

The morning of August 27 started as any other for Anika Dhar, 18, a resident of Fakira Bazar village in the Maungdaw area of Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state.

It was not immediately clear how many Rohingya would qualify to return.

New York-based Human Rights watch released analysis of the latest satellite images on Tuesday urging world leaders meeting in NY to urgently adopt a resolution condemning the ethnic cleansing by Myanmar army.

More than 410,000 Rohingya have fled the country in what the United Nations has described as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing", with security forces and local militia reportedly burning villages and shooting civilians.

"Aung San Suu Kyi today demonstrated that she and her government are still burying their heads in the sand over the horrors unfolding in Rakhine state", Amnesty International regional director James Gomez said. "We fear that this name-calling will affect our children who will then for the rest of their life have to keep defending this tag", said Mr. Salim Ullah.

Thus, it becomes unclear whether she referred to the state's entire population, or specifically the Rohingya population, who have been disproportionally affected by recent violence according to the United Nations and others. She also said the government was working to restore normalcy in the area. China, India, and Russian Federation lend Myanmar unwavering support, and back the government line that the crisis stems not from extreme structural problems in the Myanmar polity but from Rohingya "terrorism" that destabilised a period of peace.

"A verification process was set up as early as 1993", she said.

Human rights monitors have accused Burmese security forces and Rakhine Buddhist vigilantes of launching campaign of violence, rape and arson aimed at driving out the Muslim population. But to do so would risk going against the will of her own people, and might even motivate the military to replace her.