Trying to help all those who’re in distress: Suu Kyi on Dalai Lama’s ‘Buddha to help Rohingyas’ assertion

Trying to help all those who're in distress: Suu Kyi on Dalai Lama's 'Buddha to help Rohingyas' assertion

Naypyitaw/Myanmar, September 20: Myanmar State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi has been facing mounting international pressure for her handling of violence in the Rakhine state and the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Amid the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing across the border to Bangladesh since the latest outbreak of violence that began on August 25, The Dalai Lama had called on Myanmar to follow the example of the Buddha and come to the aid of the country’s persecuted Rohingya minority.

Responding to the assertion, Suu Kyi has said that the Myanmar government has been trying to help all those who are in distress, irrespective of their ethnicity.

“We are doing our best to help all those in distress within the borders of our country without distinguishing between Hindus and Muslims or the natives of the Rakhine state. So, you know, of course, we have a small Hindu community in the Rakhine, who were also caught up in the conflict and some of whom were killed. We are trying to help everyone,” she said, in an exclusive interview with ANI in Myanmar’s Naypyitaw.

Almost 90 percent of the Myanmar’s population are Buddhists, according to government figures, while the Rohingyas have long been marginalised for their Muslim faith.

Considered to be among the world’s most persecuted people, the Rohingyas are denied the right to citizenship in Myanmar despite having lived there for generations, making them effectively stateless.

They have also been the subject of multiple clearance operations by Myanmar’s military, the latest of which intensified in late August following an attack on border posts by Rohingya militants.

Speaking to journalists in North India, the Tibetan spiritual leader, The Dalai Lama, had earlier expressed grief over the ongoing violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, saying the Buddha would have “definitely helped” the Rohingya.

“They should remember, Buddha, in such circumstances, Buddha (would have) definitely helped those poor Muslims. So, still, I feel that (it’s) so very sad … so sad,” he told reporters.

For the unversed, the Myanmar State Councillor broke her silence on the Rohingya crisis in the country and said that the government does not fear scrutiny by the international community, in a State of the Union address on Tuesday morning, even as more than 4,00,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from the northern Rakhine State.

“There have been allegations and counter-allegations that need to be investigated. The government still needs to find out what the real problems are,” Suu Kyi said, in a nationally televised address, the first since an army crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority community was branded as “ethnic cleansing” by the United Nations.

Suu Kyi further stressed on the short time her government has been in power for, adding, “I am aware of the fact the world attention is focused on the situation in the Rakhine State as a responsible member of the community of nations. Myanmar does not fear international scrutiny and is committed to bringing peace and sustainable solution that will bring peace, stability and development for all communities within that state.”

“We don’t want Myanmar to be a nation divided by religious beliefs or ethnicities. Hate and fear are the main scourge and a transition for us is a transition to democracy after half a century or more of authoritarian rule. We now are in the process of nurturing our nation and yet imperfect democracy. Peace and stability have to be achieved after nearly 70 years of internal conflict that started on the day of our independence back in 1948,” she stated.

Suu Kyi further said that an action would be taken against anyone, who goes against the law of the land or violates human rights, ‘regardless of race or political position.’

During the speech, however, she mentioned the Rohingyas by name only once, in reference to the armed militant group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

In her defence, however, she asserted that she intended to not use ’emotive’ terms for an already affected population.
“There has been a lot of controversy with regard to the term used to describe the Muslims in Rakhine as there are those who want to call themselves as Rohingyas or who want to refer to the Muslims there as Rohingyas. There are those who want to call themselves as just Bengalis, which are not ethnic Rakhine,” Suu Kyi told ANI.

“I think instead of using this emotive term as it is ‘highly charged’, it is better just to say Muslims. It’s just a description that nobody can deny. We are talking about the Muslim community in the Rakhine state, and I do not see any point using terms that inflame passions further,” she added. (ANI)

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