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Aung San Suu Kyi speaks on the Rohingya crisis: What the international media is saying

LiveMint logoLiveMint 19-09-2017 Livemint

New Delhi: In her speech, Myanmar’s state counselor and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi refuted allegations of atrocities committed against the stateless minority Rohingya Muslims, while also making it clear that she doesn’t fear global scrutiny over the crisis.

The crisis began on 25 August, when insurgents from the newly formed Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked dozens of police posts in northern Rakhine state. The militants killed at least 12 members of the security forces and triggered a military campaign that has driven more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims to neighbouring Bangladesh.

The Rohingya crisis has also unleashed a torrent of international criticism against Myanmar as well as Suu Kyi with some UN officials terming the campaign as “ethnic cleansing.”

Here’s how the international media has reacted on the Rohingya Muslim crisis and Suu Kyi’ speech in Myanmar:

■ The Washington Post: “There’s a population of around a million people living in fear right now, facing the likely wrath of an uncaring government that doesn’t seem to recognize their claim to the country they have always called home.”

■ Channel News Asia: “…the reality is that dynamics of Myanmar’s political system hamstring her. Aung San Suu Kyi cannot hold the office of the presidency, the highest office in the land. Her NLD government is also in a power-sharing mode with the country’s powerful military, which controls, among others, three most important ministries relating to security matters – home affairs, defence and border affairs. Myanmar’s power-sharing political system is such that the military can simply choose to ignore or not cooperate with the NLD-led civilian government – the Tatmadaw can operate autonomously under Myanmar’s constitution.”

■ ABC News: “The Nobel Peace laureate’s global image has been damaged by violence since Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar security forces on Aug. 25. Rohingya fled their villages in the military crackdown that followed. Many of their villages were in flames when they left. The government has blamed the Rohingya themselves, but members of the persecuted minority have said soldiers and Buddhist mobs attacked them.”

■ The National: “Those trying to understand Aung San Suu Kyi’s continued unwillingness to speak out against the military’s campaign in Rakhine need only look to recent years to see that it is entirely in keeping with her past actions. The current violence is intense and on a massive scale, but it is the culmination of ongoing abuses that she has consistently refused to tackle. Though she has challenged the generals on numerous key issues, on this one she has consistently backed them.”

■ The New York Times: “It was a remarkable parroting of the language of the generals who locked her up for the better part of two decades, and in the process made a political legend of her: the regal prisoner of conscience who vanquished the military with no weapons but her principles. But she is also the daughter of the assassinated independence hero Aung San, who founded the modern Burmese Army. And she is a member of the country’s elite — from the highest class of the ethnic Bamar Buddhist majority.”

■ Deutsche Welle: “On the surface, the situation in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state appears black and white. There is an ethnic minority, widely seen as one of the most persecuted communities in the world, which is being brutally oppressed and killed. The Rohingya are the victims and the majority Buddhists and Myanmar’s security forces are the oppressors. A lack of independent information about the conflict strengthens this sharply outlined narrative and is feeding into a global propaganda. Social media is flooded with horrific Rohingya images that aim to prove the crimes of Myanmar’s security forces. But many of these images are part of the fake news machinery. They have been taken from other conflicts and other violence-marred parts of the world for the sake of propaganda.”

■ Dhaka Tribune: “What Suu Kyi says in her speech today may be significant for Bangladesh, and we may have to make some subsequent changes to our stance; but the fear is that her speech will be little more than platitudes intended to defend and cover up for the Myanmar military’s actions, in which case, nothing really changes. Either way, we hope that the world community will finally wake up to its responsibilities.”

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