• International Desk

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Reacting to Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s address to the nation, Amnesty International has said Suu Kyi demonstrated that she and her government are still burying their heads in the sand over the horrors unfolding in Rakhine State.

At times, her speech amounted to little more than a mix of untruths and victim blaming, AI Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific James Gomez said in a statement on Tuesday.

‘There’s overwhelming evidence that security forces are engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing. 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,’ he said.

Earlier in the day, in her first address to the nation since the army crackdown on the Rohingya people began on August 25 following attacks by the militants, Suu Kyi condemned any human rights violations in Rakhine, saying anyone responsible would face the law.

‘Aung San Suu Kyi’s claims that her government ‘does not fear international scrutiny’ ring hollow. Myanmar has repeatedly said it will not co-operate with the UN-mandated Fact Finding Mission established earlier this year. If Myanmar has nothing to hide, it should allow UN investigators into the country, including Rakhine State. The government must also urgently allow humanitarian actors full and unfettered access to all areas and people in need in the region,’ Gomez said.

He said the military’s campaign of violence and human rights violations in Rakhine State must end immediately.

‘But the government should also address the entrenched discrimination that has left Rohingya trapped in a cycle of abuse and deprivation for decades.’

Contrary to Aung San Suu Kyi’s claims, the AI regional director said, Rohingyas are essentially segregated in Rakhine State, effectively denied citizenship and face severe barriers to accessing health care and other basic services. Refugees who have fled to Bangladesh cannot return to this appalling status quo.

‘Aung San Suu Kyi rightly pointed to challenges around conflicts in other parts of the country. But the fact remains that ethnic minorities are also suffering severe human rights violations by the military, notably in Kachin and northern Shan States. These patterns will continue as long as the security forces enjoy near total impunity,’ Gomez added.

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