MAMOSA Report — Burma leader Aung San Suu Kyi has denied the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, speaking to the BBC after UN rights council agreed to investigate allegations against the army. She however acknowledged something was ‘happening’.
“I don’t think there is ethnic cleansing going on,” Ms Suu Kyi told the BBC in an interview when asked if she would be remembered as the Nobel Peace Prize winner who ignored ethnic cleansing in her own country.
UN probes confirm torture, murder and rape by Burmese (Myanmar) troops.
“I think ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening,” Suu Kyi said in the interview televised by BBC on Wednesday.
When asked whether perceptions of her as an amalgam of Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa of Calcutta were incorrect as she was more similar to former British leader Margaret Thatcher, she said:
“Well no. I am just a politician. I am not quite like Margaret Thatcher, no. But on the other hand, I am no Mother Teresa either.”
Her one-year-old government has faced international condemnation for the treatment of the country’s Rohingya Muslim minorities, who are regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, prompting the UN rights council to agree last month to launch an investigation into violations against them.
The Geneva-based body’s fact-finding mission will examine allegations of torture, murder and rape allegedly committed by Myanmar’s troops.
Suu Kyi told the BBC there was “a lot of hostility” in the western state of Rakhine — Myanmar’s Muslim-majority region where more than one million Rohingyas live.
“It is Muslims killing Muslims, as well, if they think they are collaborating with authorities.
“It is not just a matter of ethnic cleansing. It is a matter of people on different sides of a divide, and this divide we are trying to close. As best as possible and not to widen it further,” she said.
Myanmar has launched its own domestic probe into possible crimes in Rahkine and appointed former UN chief Kofi Annan to head a commission tasked with healing long-simmering divisions between Buddhists and Muslims.
Suu Kyi said the army was “not free to rape, pillage and torture”.
“They are free to go in and fight. And of course, that is in the constitution… Military matters are to be left to the army,” she said, adding that she aimed to amend the constitution.
Almost 75,000 people from the persecuted minority have escaped to Bangladesh after the military launched operations in the north of Rakhine state to find Rohingya militants who raided police border posts in October.
Rohingyas who have fled told the UN rights office that soldiers executed babies in front of their mothers, as part of campaign to terrorize the Muslim minority.
“If they come back they will be safe,” said Suu Kyi, adding that those who fled were welcome to return.
Her National League for Democracy (NLD) faced the ballot box on Saturday in by-elections across the country, winning a string of seats but losing out in ethnic minority areas including Rakhine.
The NLD came to power in a historic 2015 election which ended half a century of brutal military rule, but there has been disillusionment with the administration as it struggles to push through reforms and ease unrest.
Myanmar Military Razes Ancient Mosque
Buthidaung- A 200-year old historical mosque in Buthidaung Township was bulldozed by the Myanmar military on April 3, 2017.
It was located at the village of ‘Lawei Dek’ in Buthidaung and was built even before the British before the British occupation of Arakan, according to the local folklore.
“During the British time, there existed shops and bazaar at the both sides of the road nearby the Masjid. It was known as ‘Botoli Bazaar.’ The mosque was closed by the authorities only in the mid-1990s.
“But yesterday, the military from a battalion from a battalion nearby ‘Lawei Dek’ arrived with a bulldozer and razed the mosque,” said an elderly Rohingya man in Buthidaung.
Although the Myanmar government claims of putting its best efforts to end the crisis in the Arakan state, the Rohingya people are suffering from persecution at all fronts including restrictions to freedom of worship. The majority of their places of worship have officially remained closed since June 2012.
Various Myanmar regimes throughout history have been involved in systematic demolitions of the Rohingya historical monuments.