Understatement

Aung San Suu Kyi admits Rohingya crisis ‘could have been handled better’

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. (Dan Himbrechts - Pool/Getty Images)

State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi again denied the alleged genocide of her country’s Rohingya Muslim minority by the state military during a rare international appearance at a forum in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday.

“There are, of course, ways in which, with hindsight, we might think that the situation could have been handled better, but we believe that for the sake of long-term stability and security, we have to be fair to all sides … For the government, we have to be fair to all of them, even if the rest of the world is not interested,” she said, referring to her prior claims that the international community has ignored the violent acts of armed Rohingya militants who have resisted the slaughter. According to numbers from local Myanmar officials, at least 50 people have been killed by Rohingya resistance fighters. By contrast, more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled systemic rape and executions by Myanmar’s military, which has claimed the lives of at least 10,000 Rohingya, according to the United Nations.

Earlier this week, Fozia Alvi, a Canada-based family physician who has been volunteering her time treating Rohingya refugees at camps in Bangladesh, appeared at the Women in the World Canada Summit. She talked about the horrors she’s witnessed on the ground there and urged people around the world to pay attention to what’s happening there and focus less on more tawdry aspects of current events.

Suu Kyi, who once was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent commitment to promoting democracy in a country long controlled by the military, has largely skipped international events in recent years due to widespread outrage over her refusal to attempt to stop, or even acknowledge, the atrocities being carried out against the Rohingya. In her remarks at the Hanoi forum, she also defended the imprisonment of two Reuters reporters, U Wa Lone and U Kyaw Soe Oo, who were given seven-year prison sentences this month for uncovering the massacre of a Rohingya village. The imprisonment of the reporters, she claimed, was not a violation of press freedom or an attempt to stifle information about the genocide of the Rohingya but simply normal enforcement of the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, among others, have condemned the sentencing of the reporters and called on Suu Kyi to release them.

Below, watch Suu Kyi’s remarks at the Hanoi forum.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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