Aung San Suu Kyi asked if she has become an 'apologist' for ethnic cleansing amid Rohingya Muslim crisis

'What about the people who fled?' asks journalist

Harriet Agerholm
Tuesday 19 September 2017 20:01
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BBC reporter: "Ms Suu Kyi, have you become an apologist for ethnic cleansing?"

Aung San Suu Kyi has been asked whether she is an "apologist" for ethnic cleansing by a BBC journalist.

Former Burma correspondent Jonah Fisher was filmed attempting to question the Nobel Peace Prize winner after she spoke about the country's Rohingya Muslim crisis in the capital of Nyapyidaw.

"Ms Suu Kyi have you become an apologist for ethnic cleansing?" Mr Fisher asked. "Do you have something to say? What about the people who fled, Ms Suu Kyi?"

Burma's de facto leader, who was walking with an entourage, did not answer the questions.

Monitors have accused Burmese security forces and Buddhist civilians of launching a campaign of violence, rape and arson intended to drive the Muslim population out of Rakhine state.

In her first address to the nation since more than 400,000 of the country's minority Muslim population was sent fleeing to Bangladesh, Ms Suu Kyi insisted Burma was not "afraid of international scrutiny".

She condemned human rights violations in Rakhine state and said the crimes would be punished, but she did not address UN accusations of ethnic cleansing by the military, prompting a hostile international response.

At the annual United Nations General Assembly, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated a call for an end to military operations and for aid workers to be allowed access to the region.

"I take note of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi's address today and their intention to implement the recommendations of the advisory committee for Rakhine state, that was chaired by Kofi Annan, within the shortest time possible," he said.

"But let me emphasise again, the authorities in Myanmar (also known as Burma) must end the military operations, allow unhindered humanitarian access and recognizs the right of refugees to return in safety and dignity; and they must also address the grievances of the Rohingya, whose status has been left unresolved for far too long."

Burma has rejected allegations of ethnic cleansing, claiming its security forces were simply carrying out clearance operations against insurgents.

Although Ms Suu Kyi is the de facto leader of Burma’s civilian government, reform is almost impossible without the military's agreement, since it tightly controls the country’s security and holds the majority of seats in parliament.

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