Most Rohingya villages are bviolence-free, says Aung San Suu Kyi

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The Nobel Peace laureate invites diplomats to visit Rakhine villages

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday defended her country against international criticism over an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims by saying that most of their villages remain intact, and that it’s important to understand why conflict did not break out everywhere.

The Nobel Peace laureate’s global image has been damaged by violence since Rohingya insurgents attacked security forces on Aug. 25. More than 400,000 Rohingya have fled their villages, many of which have been burned. The government has blamed the Rohingya themselves, but members of the persecuted minority have said soldiers and Buddhist mobs attacked them.

Ms. Suu Kyi told foreign diplomats gathered in Naypyitaw that “more than half” of Rohingya villages were not affected by violence. She invited the diplomats to visit those villages so they could learn along with the government “why are they not at each other’s throats in these particular areas.”

Ms. Suu Kyi, in her first address to the nation since the Rohingya crisis, said she “feels deeply” for the suffering of “all people” caught up in conflict scorching through Rakhine State. “We are concerned to hear the number of Muslims fleeing areas to Bangladesh,” she added, condemning any “human rights violations” that may have exacerbated the crisis.In the 30-minute televised speech, she reached out to her critics, deploying the soaring rhetoric that once made her a darling of the global rights community.

“Hate and fear are the main scourges of our world,” she said, adding, “We don’t want Myanmar to be a nation divided by religious beliefs or ethnicity… we all have the right to our diverse identities.”Ms. Suu Kyi said that Myanmar stood ready “at any time” to verify the status of the 410,000 Rohingya who have fled violence in the last month to aid the return of those eligible for resettlement.


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