Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi condemned on Tuesday any human rights violations in troubled Rakhine State and said anyone responsible would face the law, and that she felt deeply for the suffering of everyone caught up in the conflict there.
The Nobel Peace laureate’s remarks came in her first address to the nation since attacks by Rohingya Muslim insurgents on Aug. 25 sparked a military response that has forced more than 410,000 Rohingya into neighboring Bangladesh.
Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech to the nation over Rakhine and Rohingya situation, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar September 19, 2017. (Image Credit: Reuters)
Western diplomats and aid officials attending the address welcomed Suu Kyi’s message, though some doubted if she had said enough to end the barrage of global criticism Myanmar has faced.
Human rights groups were dismissive. Amnesty International said Suu Kyi and her government were “burying their heads in the sand” for ignoring the role of the army in the violence.
The United Nations has branded the military operation in the western state ethnic cleansing. Suu Kyi did not address that but said her government was committed to the rule of law.
“We condemn all human rights violations and unlawful violence. We are committed to the restoration of peace and stability and rule of law throughout the state,” Suu Kyi said in her address in the capital, Naypyitaw.
Long feted in the West for her role as champion of democracy in the Buddhist-majority country during years of military rule and house arrest, Suu Kyi has faced growing criticism for saying little about the abuses faced by the Rohingya.
“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,” she said.
“We feel deeply for the suffering of all the people caught up in the conflict.”
The United States urged Myanmar on Monday to end military operations, grant humanitarian access, and commit to aiding the safe return of civilians to their homes.
Myanmar’s generals remain in full charge of security and Suu Kyi did not comment on the military operation, except to say that there had been “no armed clashes and there have been no clearance operations” since Sept. 5.