1151 GMT April 07, 2020
The de facto Myanmar leader publicly clashed with Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, arguing that an EU-backed review of the Rohingya crisis was not “in keeping with what is actually happening on the ground”, FT reported.
The EU and the US — which also endorsed the proposed review by the UN Human Rights Council — have been among Aung San Suu Kyi’s most vocal international backers. They lauded her long journey from pro-democracy prisoner of conscience under Myanmar’s former ruling generals to landslide election victory in 2015.
But allegations that Myanmar security forces have waged a campaign of mass murder and rape in Rohingya areas have created diplomatic strains.
Some of Aung San Suu Kyi’s supporters retort that it is unrealistic to expect her to directly confront the country’s still-powerful military.
She said the planned UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission would “divide” communities in the troubled western state of Rakhine. The Rohingya minority there has long faced official discrimination and been targeted by Buddhist hardliners who brand them unwelcome immigrants. The UN Human Rights Council resolved in March to launch a review into reports of abuses during a months-long military crackdown in Rohingya areas of Rakhine. The clampdown was a response to an October attack by militiamen that allegedly killed nine security force members stationed close to the Bangladeshi border.
“We are disassociating ourselves from the resolution because we don’t think the resolution is in keeping with what is actually happening on the ground,” Aung San Suu Kyi told a joint news conference with Mogherini in Brussels on Tuesday.
Aung San Suu Kyi said she would follow instead the recommendations of a special commission on Rakhine she set up in August under the leadership of Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general.
Mogherini countered that the rights council mission would focus on “establishing the truth about the past”. She noted that the subject was a rare source of discord between Myanmar and the EU, which has scrapped most sanctions imposed during the dictatorship years but retains an arms embargo.
Myanmar security forces launched a “calculated policy of terror” in Rohingya areas that killed hundreds of people and drove tens of thousands from their homes, according to a report published in February by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The research was based on the testimony of Rohingya refugees who had fled affected areas. The Myanmar government has said it will investigate all allegations properly.
Aung San Suu Kyi has faced criticism from rights activists for not taking a stronger stand against both the Rakhine violence and attempts by government officials and state media to discredit the allegations of abuses. Analysts say she has only limited influence over the military, which still holds a quarter of the seats in parliament, crucial ministries and vast power behind the scenes in a country still in the early stages of a long transition to civilian rule.