Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has bemoaned the lack of global scrutiny on extremism and “terrorists” inside Rakhine state, where her country’s army stands accused of committing genocide against Rohingya Muslims.
The comments from the Nobel laureate are part of a long standing defense of the army campaign against the maligned Rohingya, which drove nearly three-quarters of a million of the minority into Bangladesh in 2017.
That campaign brought US sanctions on key military figures and allegations of genocide by United Nations investigators.
The Myanmar military has said their actions were necessary and proportionate to stamp out Rohingya militants — a defense Aung San Suu Kyi reiterated in an interview with Japan’s Nikkei newspaper on Wednesday.
“There are certain extremist elements who do not want peace in Rakhine… because for many terrorists, problems are what they thrive on,” she said, referencing attacks by Rohingya rebels in 2017 that sparked a scorched earth army operation.
“So we are disappointed… that the international community has paid very little attention to the terrorist element of the problems in Rakhine,” she said.
Ethnic Rakhine rebels, who are Buddhist, are also fighting the army in a state ruptured by conflict and communal hatreds.
Suu Kyi, who spent a total of 15 years under house arrest during Myanmar’s junta regime, was once regarded as an icon of freedom.
But her international reputation has been tarnished in the wake of the Rohingya crackdown.
UN investigators have called for an expert evaluation on whether she can be legally implicated in the abuses committed against the ethnic minority.
Her National League for Democracy party have been in an uneasy power-sharing agreement with the military — which ruled the country with an iron fist for nearly five decades.
Under the charter it scripted, the military is gifted a bank of seats as well as full control of all security matters.
Her party’s promises to amend the military-scripted constitution have not been fulfilled, and Suu Kyi told Nikkei the amendments are unlikely to come before next year’s election.
“We believe the change will come, but how quickly it will come is difficult for us to predict… the military are not overly enthusiastic about the amendments we have suggested,” she said.
Find all episodes of The Coconuts Podcast
Paywall: You’re outta here, Coconuts stories are free for all
We have removed our paywall on all Coconuts stories. This does not mean the end of COCO+ Membership at all, but the value proposition is changing.
Rather than being a transactional subscription – whereby you pay for access to content – it is now a true membership program – whereby Coconuts stories are free for everyone but super-fans can monetarily support our independent journalism, and get added member benefits.
If you'd like to support Coconuts, you can become a COCO+ Member for as little as US$5 per year. Thank you!