One language, two audiences for Suu Kyi's first Rakhine speech

Cesar Mills
September 20, 2017

According to the United Nations, over 400,000 Rohingyas have so far fled to Bangladesh since August 25, joining the around one million Rohingyas who were already in the country having traveled there during earlier times of unrest.

"World leaders meeting at the United Nations should act to end this mounting crisis and show Burma's military leaders they will pay a price for such atrocities".

In her first speech about the exodus of Rohingya Muslims following attacks by Rohingya militants on August 25, Suu Kyi asked for patience from the global community and suggested the refugees were partly responsible, saying more than half of the Rohingya villages had not been destroyed by the violence.

The Nobel Peace laureate's global image has been damaged by violence since Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar security forces on August 25.

"We want to understand why this exodus is happening", she said.

Promila Sheel, 25, said she made a decision to flee to Bangladesh after her husband was killed by militia.

Amnesty International described Suu Kyi's remarks as "little more than a mix of untruths and victim blaming".

Suu Kyi used the term "Rohingya" only once in her speech when she referred to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a militant group.

"The Tatmadaw wants the NSDC, on which it controls six seats, to exercise its authority to declare a state of emergency in northern Rakhine and place the area under martial law", the English language Frontier Myanmar wrote.

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Members of the military have reportedly been laying landmines along the border to make sure they do not return and mobs of ethnic Rakhines, who are predominantly Buddhist, have reportedly threatened Rohingya, who are predominantly Muslim, to "leave or they will kill them all".

Satellite imagery released by Human Rights Watch on Tuesday shows massive swaths of scorched landscape and the near total destruction of 214 villages. "We fear that this name-calling will affect our children who will then for the rest of their life have to keep defending this tag", said Mr. Salim Ullah.

Anika, who is expecting a baby, said her husband Milon worked at a salon in Maungdaw's Fakira Bazar. If Rohingya are proven wrong that they were attacked, he said, "we will not mind if the world decides to kill us all by pushing us into the sea".

Sohail Khan. a fellow Rohingya who crossed over in 2012, said Ms. Suu Kyi has said there will first be a verification process and only then will they be given their nationality back.

Anika said she was able to escape in the confusion and friendly people helped her get across the river Naf to Bangladesh.

Such accounts are consistent with the stories brought by the mainly Muslim Rohingya, who accuse the Myanmar military and Rakhine militias backed by the army of carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya.

Rohingyas living in a refugee colony near Kalindi Kunj said the leader in her address did not even once denounce the atrocities based on ethnicity that have been continuing for years in the Rakhine state and gave no guarantee to Rohingyas that they would be safe if they returned.

Earlier this month, a media trip to Rakhine State was organised by the government, in which journalists found it next to impossible to acquire permits to visit the area independently and interview people without official interference, according to the CNN report.

Other reports by GizPress

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