State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi told a reporter in Tokyo on Saturday that she does not know why she said last month that the military response to Rohingya insurgents in Rakhine State “could’ve been handled better”.
The Myanmar military’s campaign of rape, murder, and arson, which displaced more than 700,000 Rohingya from the country starting on Aug. 25, 2017, have been described by UN investigators as genocidal.
Suu Kyi was asked on stage at the World Economic Forum on Sept. 12 to evaluate the military’s actions. She said: “There are of course ways in which, with hindsight, the situation could’ve been handled better.”
But when asked last weekend to elaborate on that remark during an interview with Japanese broadcaster NHK, she said: “Actually, I’m a bit surprised by this quote, because I do not know to what it is referring. I didn’t at any time see that the situation could not have been, could have been handled better, and I don’t quite understand the reference.”
During the same interview, the state counsellor also claimed that Myanmar “a lot of press freedom” and offered as evidence the widespread use of social media in Myanmar. “They express themselves very freely and very widely on everything from the government to what’s happening next door to them in their street,” she said.
Three days later, three journalists from Eleven Media were arrested for publishing an article in which lawmakers accuse Yangon Region chief minister Phyo Min Thein of violating government finance rules. They have been charged under Section 505(b) of the penal code, which outlaws the publication of information that could cause “fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offense against the State or against the public tranquility” and face up to two years in prison.