Home Editorial Aung San Suu Kyi visited Rakhine

Aung San Suu Kyi visited Rakhine

Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi visited Rakhine state on Thursday, November 2nd, 2017. This was her first visit since the Muslim-ruled Rohingya region was rocked by a conflict last August. 600.000 Rohingyas were forced to flee, mostly to neighboring Bangladesh, due to the conflict.

The United Nations and international human rights organizations have found evidences of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine. They said that hundreds of Rohingya Muslims were killed and the majority of Rohingyas are driven from their homeland by burning houses, rape and murder.

Instead, the Myanmar government said that it was fighting Rohingya terrorists who launched attacks on security posts and killed dozens.

With tight guard, Aung San Suu Kyi visited Maungdaw, the hardest-hit region. In this location, the Nobel peace laureate met with Muslim clerics. According to the AFP news agency, there were three messages that Suu Kyi had exposed to Rohingya Muslims; they should live in peace, and the government would help them, and they should not fight each other.

Since her party won the 2015 election, Suu Kyi is de facto acting as the head of the Burmese government, whose power is limited by the constitution created by the former military junta. The military has a veto over the law, controlling several strategic ministries, security and defense. The military operate in Rakhine, and Aung San Suu Kyi has no power to stop the operation.

With limited power, Suu Kyi faces international criticism. As a fighter of democracy, on one hand, she is considered slow in responding to human rights abuses in Rakhine. On the other hand, she will also face the opposition of the majority of Burmese, if she defends the Rohingyas. Most Burmese people agree with their government's claim that Rohingyas are not native to Myanmar, but illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Although it may be true from Bangladesh, they have lived in Myanmar for generations, and the number has reached over 1.5 million people.

Aung San Suu Kyi's visit to Rakhine is expected to stop violence against Rohingyas. Until now, the number of Rohingya refugees continues to flow even though not as many as before. There is no other way for the Burmese military except cooperating with the civilian government in overcoming this long-standing humanitarian crisis.

For the sake of humanitarian aspect, Burmese military must protect Rohingya ethnic in Myanmar. They certainly do not want international terrorists’ attention to lead to Myanmar and cause new problems there. Myanmar that freed from economic sanctions should be able to address domestic issues that may hamper ongoing investment and democratic transitions.


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