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Suu Kyi says unable to stop anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar

Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (L) speaks during a press conference, September 12, 2013 in Warsaw, Poland (AFP, Janek Skarzynski)

September 12, 2013

WARSAW — Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Thursday that she alone could not stop the anti-Muslim violence that has shaken her country and that the solution was to install the rule of law.

"It's not something that I could learn to do, but I think what this whole society has to strive to do," the democracy icon told reporters in Warsaw during a tour of central Europe.

"We need rule of law in order that our people may feel secure and only secure people can talk to one another and try to establish the kind of relationship that will assure harmony for the future of our nation."

Suu Kyi was answering a question from a reporter who asked if she personally could do anything to stop the sectarian violence.

While she is venerated for her struggle for democracy, some international human rights activists have accused the Nobel Peace laureate of failing to clearly condemn anti-Muslim violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Sectarian clashes in the western state of Rakhine last year left about 200 people dead, mostly Rohingya Muslims who are denied citizenship.

Suu Kyi, 68, was speaking after having lunch with Polish anti-communist firebrand Lech Walesa.

The fellow Nobel Peace laureate was leader of the Solidarity trade union, which negotiated a bloodless end to communism in Poland in 1989.

The following year he became Poland's first democratically elected president since World War II.

Walesa, 69, said he thought Myanmar would one day achieve democracy like Poland.

"Before we achieved success, we lost a couple battles," he said.

"They are in a similar situation: they're losing some battles. But on balance they will probably win the war."

Suu Kyi, who has said she will run for president in 2015, stressed the need to amend Myanmar's current constitution, which she said "is against all democratic values".

The document was crafted under the former military regime and blocks anyone, like Suu Kyi, whose spouses or children are foreign nationals from leading the country.

Warsaw's mayor announced she was making Suu Kyi an honorary citizen of the city, a distinction only offered to one other foreigner, the Dalai Lama.

Earlier Thursday, Suu Kyi met with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Bronislaw Komorowski.

Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest under military rule in Myanmar, before she was freed after controversial elections in 2010.

She is now an opposition lawmaker as part of sweeping reforms under a new quasi-civilian regime that took office in 2011.

The democracy icon next heads to Hungary and the Czech Republic.

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