China calls for understanding of Myanmar's need to protect stability

Cheryl Sanders
September 21, 2017

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi is defending her country against global criticism over an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims by saying most of their villages remain intact, and that it's important to understand why conflict did not break out everywhere.

She said that most Muslims are staying in their homes and that more than 50 percent of their villages are intact, but that she is "concerned" to hear that many are fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh. "We feel deeply for the suffering of all people who have been caught in the conflict", Suu Kyi said in her address. "We want to find out what the real problems are", Suu Kyi said in her State of the Union address. "We have to listen to all of them", she said. Suu Kyi made the statement to assure the foreign diplomats gathered for her speech at Naypyitaw, the Myanmar capital.

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.

Several world leaders raised the plight of the Rohingya as the UN General Assembly opened its annual session on Tuesday.

The fact-finding mission was established in March by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) resolution 34/22 which poses deep concern at the "serious further deterioration of the security, human rights and humanitarian situation in Rakhine state".

Hours after Suu Kyi's speech, Myanmar's United Nations ambassador Htin Lynn re-asserted his government's "position of disassociating herself from the resolution" that set up the fact-finding mission.

The former Nobel Peace Prize victor has been the subject of growing global scrutiny over her response to a crisis that has forced forced more than 410,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. The British Government is announcing today that we are going to stop all defence engagement and training of the Burmese military by the Ministry of Defence until this issue is resolved.

United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has called a military crackdown there a "textbook case of ethnic cleansing".

"Based on the principles to which both countries agreed at this time, we can continue with the verification process of refugees who wish to return to Myanmar". "The government must also urgently allow humanitarian actors full and unfettered access to all areas and people in need in the region", Amnesty International's Robertson said.

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