Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has reached out to the global community appealing for support over a refugee crisis involving Rohingya muslims. Communal violence has torn through Rakhine state since August 25 this year, leaving hundreds dead and driving more than 410,000 of the Rohingya minority from Myanmar into Bangladesh.
In her 30-minute televised address, Suu Kyi urged to help her nation unite across religious and ethnic lines.
The Nobel peace laureate, has been decried for failing to speak up publicly for the stateless Rohingya or urge restraint from the military. But today, she reached out to her critics, stressing “hate and fear are the main scourges of our world.”
“We don’t want Myanmar to be a nation divided by religious beliefs or ethnicity… we all have the right to our diverse identities.”
While expressing her sorrow for “all” groups displaced by violence, she said her country stood ready “at any time” to take back refugees subject to a “verification” process. However, it was not immediately clear how many of the estimated 4,10,000 Rohingya who have fled Myanmar would qualify to return.
But the subject of their claims to live Myanmar is at the heart of a toxic debate about the Muslim group. Myanmar’s army has previously it will not take back people linked with “terrorists”.
The UN too had flagged the crisis criticising Myanmar army. It has even decried it as “ethnic cleansing”.
Though on the other hand, the army denies that, insisting its operations are a proportional response to the late August raids by Rohingya militants, who they label “extremist Bengali terrorists”.
Since then just under half of Rakhine’s Rohingya population has poured into Bangladesh, where they now languish in one of the world’s largest refugee camps.
A further 30,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus have also been displaced — apparent targets of the August 25 attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militant group.
Suu Kyi skipped this week’s UN General Assembly in New York to manage the crisis at home and deliver her televised address — the biggest yet of her time in office.
(With inputs from Agencies)