Burma’s Leader Slammed for Glossing Over the Country’s Crisis

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi failed to address the massacre that’s been described as ethnic cleansing.

Xinhua/ZUMA Wire

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate and internationally renowned human rights advocate Aung San Suu Kyi is facing sharp criticism for her remarks Tuesday on the crisis in Burma, a military massacre that has been described by the top United Nations human right official as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” As of early September, the death toll was believed to be around 1,000, and hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country, which is also known as Myanmar.

“As a responsible member of the community of nations, Myanmar does not fear international scrutiny,” Suu Kyi, the leader of the country’s ruling party, said during her first public remarks on the violence plaguing the western state of Arakan, also known as Rakhine.

Her remarks come as more than 400,000 members of the Rohingya ethnic group, a Muslim minority long oppressed by the country’s Buddhist majority, have fled to Bangladesh for safety since late August. Bangladeshi officials say land mines have been planted on the the Burma side of the border and refugees who have escaped are living in camps that lack adequate food and medical aid. 

Suu Kyi decided not to attend the UN General Assembly this week, giving her controversial address early this morning from Naypyidaw, the capital of Burma (also known as Myanmar). During her speech, she claimed she didn’t know why the Rohingya were fleeing. 

Amnesty International denounced her comments as a “mix of untruths and victim-blaming.” “There is overwhelming evidence that security forces are engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing through murder and forced displacement,” James Gomez, the group’s regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement. “While it was positive to hear Aung San Suu Kyi condemn human rights violations in Rakhine state, she is still silent about the role of the security forces in this.”

Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch released satellite evidence showing that more than 210 villages have been burned to the ground in western Burma since the violence kicked off in late August. 

“While Aung San Suu Kyi may not have the power or authority to rein in the Burmese military, she can speak out and also ensure the UN Fact-Finding Mission is able to enter Burma,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “Concerned governments should not wait for her to act. They should impose targeted sanctions on those most responsible for the terrible atrocities taking place.” 

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate