Suu Kyi condemns fake NLD statement, calls for violence in Mandalay to be contained
|Fake document (left); original NLD document (right).|
July 7, 2014
Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy party (NLD), condemned the recent circulation of a fake NLD statement about last week’s riots in Mandalay as a political attack on her party. A day after communal violence kicked off on 1 July in Mandalay’s Chan Aye Tharzan Township, the NLD released a statement warning people to be wary of allowing rumours to “trigger the instability of the public” and urged authorities to investigate whether the rumours of a Buddhist maid being raped by Muslim teashop owners are true. Another statement, falsely attributed to the NLD, was also circulated on social media websites. It used derogatory language – such as calling Muslims “Kalars” – and also called for the arrest of Buddhist monks thatit said had instigated the riots. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a parliament session in Naypyidaw on Friday, Suu Kyi reiterated the importance of containing the violence to prevent it from spreading further. However, she hypothesised that the unrest could have been staged to cause problems for her party. “The NLD usually does not comment on such incidents but we tried to be impartial on both sides to prevent further problems,” Suu Kyi said. “We released a statement this time with concern for all parties, and immediately after, someone released the fake version.” “We don’t know who did this but we assume it is a political attack,” she said. “Using religious issues for political gain is against the Constitution and also unethical.” Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate and a former icon for democracy, has remained silent on issues regarding anti-Muslim sentiment and violence, which has displaced more than 140,000 Muslims since June 2012. Her party’s statement on 2 July urged authorities to keep the public informed. It also called for the protection of people and their properties. “It is undesirable to have unconfirmed rumours not only make people fearful, but also have unidentified mobs committing terrorising acts,” the statement said. “The authorities also should take immediate action on such kind of rumours. They should investigate on the rumours and if true, transparent action should be taken,” it said. “If the news is wrong, authorities should let people know what is right.”
However, in stark contrast, the fake statement called for the jailing of the police force and Buddhist monks who failed to maintain public order, and insulted those who took part in the mob killings. Referring to Muslims as “Kalar”, the statement also questioned whether the alleged rape of the Buddhist woman was consensual. “Unemployed and uneducated people in Mandalay who are not capable of logical thinking and who call themselves the ‘patriots’ are the ones instigating the unrest,” the fake statement said, adding that the public should not “oppress” the Muslims. “There would be no grounds for such an incident taking place if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was the president of Burma.” Burma has been plagued with frequent and deadly bouts of communal violence since June 2012, when riots broke out between Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in western Burma. The Mandalay riots were sparked by an unsubstantiated rumour that Muslim teashop owners raped a Buddhist woman. At least two people were killed during the ensuing mob violence.