Suu Kyi: Myanmar ready to welcome back refugees

Suu Kyi: Myanmar ready to welcome back refugees

Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a televised speech to the nation at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Tuesday. (AP Photo)
Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a televised speech to the nation at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Tuesday. (AP Photo)

YANGON: Myanmar leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi said her government was ready to welcome back Rohingya refugees who fled a crackdown by security forces over the past month.

"We condemn all human rights violations and unlawful violence," Ms Suu Kyi said on Tuesday in a rare televised English-language address from the capital Naypyidaw. "We are committed to the restoration of peace, stability and rule of law throughout the state."

More than 400,000 Rohingya refugees have fled across Myanmar's border with Bangladesh since Aug 25, when militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked 25 police and army posts, killing a dozen security officials in the eastern state of Rakhine.

The military responded to those attacks with what it has called "clearance operations". Human-rights groups have accused security forces and Buddhist vigilantes of indiscriminately attacking Muslims and burning their villages.

"The security forces have been instructed to adhere strictly to the code of conduct in carrying out security operations, exercise all due restraint and to take full measures to avoid collateral damage and the harming of innocent civilians," Ms Suu Kyi said. Authorities are ready to start the verification process for those who fled to return to Myanmar, she said.

(Video Twitter/@CNN)

The army has said more than 400 people have died, most of them militants, while human-rights groups say hundreds of villagers have been killed. Earlier this year, United Nations investigators concluded that soldiers had "very likely" committed crimes against humanity while responding to a Rohingya militant operation in October 2016.

Rohingya Muslims who fled violence in Myanmar rejected leader Aung San Suu Kyi's claims that many members of their minority group are safe.

Suu Kyi said Tuesday that most Rohingya villages weren't hit by violence. She invited foreign diplomats gathered in the capital for her speech to visit villages that were unaffected.

In the Kutupalong refugee camp in nearby Bangladesh, Abdul Hafiz says Rohingya once trusted Suu Kyi more than the military that ruled before her for half a century. Now he calls Suu Kyi a "liar" and says Rohingya are suffering more than ever.

Mr Hafiz was angered by the implication that Rohingya who were driven from their villages were themselves responsible. He said if that's true, Ms Suu Kyi should give international journalists more access to their destroyed villages. If Rohingya are proven wrong, he says, "we will not mind if the world decides to kill us all by pushing us into the sea".

(Video Twitter/@itvnews)


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