Violence in west Myanmar between Buddhist s and Muslims, "Huge International Tragedy" - Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday described violence in west Myanmar between Buddhist s and Muslims as a "huge international tragedy" and said illegal migration from Bangladesh had to be stopped.
Suu Kyi, on a visit to India, said she had declined to speak out on behalf of stateless Rohingya who live on both sides of the border as she wanted to promote reconciliation after recent bloodshed. More than 100,000 people have been displaced in Myanmar since June in two major outbreaks of violence in the western state of Rakhine, where renewed clashes last month uprooted about 30,000 people. Dozens have been killed on both sides and thousands of homes torched.
"Don't forget that violence has been committed by both sides, this is why I prefer not to take sides and also I want to work towards reconciliation," she told a news channel. "Is there a lot of illegal crossing of the border (with Bangladesh) still going on? We have got to put a stop to it otherwise there will never be an end to the problem," she said. "Bangladesh will say all these people have come from Burma (Myanmar) and the Burmese say all these people have come over from Bangladesh."
The Nobel laureate, who was released from military house arrest in 2010, has faced criticism from human rights groups for her muted response to the ethnic violence in her homeland. "This is a huge international tragedy and this is why I keep saying that the government must have a policy about their citizenship laws," she said.
Myanmar's 800,000 Rohingya are seen by the government and many in the country as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. They face severe discrimination that activists say has led to a deepening alienation. "There are quarrels about whether people are true citizens under law or whether they have come over as migrants later from Bangladesh," she said.
"Most people seem to think there is only one country involved in this border issue. "There are two countries. There is Bangladesh on one side and Burma (Myanmar) on the other and the security of the border surely is the responsibility of both countries." The Rohingya, who make up the vast majority of those displaced in the fighting, are described by the UN as among the world's most persecuted minorities.
The Rohingya are not officially recognised in Myanmar, partly owing to a 1982 law stipulating that minorities must prove they lived in Myanmar prior to 1823 -- before the first Anglo-Burmese war -- to obtain nationality.
Suu Kyi also expressed disappointment over how India drew close to the military junta after initially supporting the democracy movement there. Even as she suggested that she was no longer impacted by expectations and disappointment, the Nobel laureate said she had been "saddened'' by the fact that India had drawn away in her country's "most difficult days''.
Suu Kyi made the remark while delivering the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru memorial lecture in New Delhi on Wednesday evening. She added that she had not lost faith in India because she believed that relations between the two countries were based on friendship between the people. "I was saddened by the fact that India had drawn away in our most difficult days but always had faith in our lasting relationship,'' she said. "Friendship should be based between people and not governments; governments come and go.''
Her remarks came at the end of the lecture during which she recalled her struggle for democracy even while under house arrest for 21 years and her father General Aung San's friendship with Nehru. Suu Kyi reached out to the people of India, saying, "We hope that in the last phase of our struggle, people of India will stand by us and walk by us on the path that they were able to proceed on many years ago.''
As she invited her to deliver the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial lecture, Sonia described her as "one of the most remarkable figures of our time" saying she had imbibed the best of the East and the West. "She exemplifies all qualities he (Nehru) most admired — fearlessness, integrity, moral and intellectual courage, perseverance, freedom from anger and bitterness and unqualified devotion to betterment of the life of her people through the path of dialogue and national reconciliation," Sonia said.
She said Indian people revere Suu Kyi for the sacrifices she has made. Sonia recalled how on receiving the news of the assassination of Suu Kyi's father, Nehru had written to her mother saying he had lost a friend who was looked at with hope by Burma and Asia. "You are the worthy inheritor of a noble father's legacy," she added.
- Asian Tribune -