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Suu Kyi says her role in Rohingya controversy ‘not to set one community against another’

NLD chairperson Daw Aung San Suu Kyi waves to party supporters in Bhamo, Kachin state during her party election campaign on October 5, 2015. Photo: Min Min/Mizzima

October 8, 2015

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi appeared diplomatic when challenged in a TV interview with India Today over her failure to condemn the communal violence and poor treatment of Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine State.

Speaking to India Today’s Karan Thapar in an interview filmed at her home in Yangon and broadcast on Wednesday evening, Suu Kyi stressed the need for reconciliation in Rakhine State, troubled by communal violence that flared up in 2012 when clashes broke out between Rakhine Buddhists and minority Muslim Rohingya.

“I’ve talked about it but people are not interested, because what they want me to do is condemn the Rakhine. I can’t condemn the Rakhine for the simple fact that the Rakhine have many grievances as well, which are a result of the policies that were pursued by the military authorities for decades. And I don’t want to set more flames alight,” she told India Today.

“My role is not to set one community against another, but to try to bring reconciliation between them. I cannot do that by condemning either community.”

Many foreign critics have raised questions over the National League for Democracy chairperson’s virtual silence over the poor treatment of the Rohingya minority, that the government refers to as “Bengalis,” claiming they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Rights groups say the poor treatment and incarceration in camps amounts to a “genocidal policy” targeting the minority.

Suu Kyi was adamant that her role is one to work with the communities to sort out the grievances of all members of the state, which is one of Myanmar’s poorest.

“What people would like to hear are flaming words of condemnation, and I am not out for condemnation. What I am trying to achieve is reconciliation. And we’ve got to keep to that path because there is a long future ahead of us. Our people must learn to live together in peace and harmony, within the security provided for them by the right kind of political framework,” she told India Today.

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