Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday denied reports of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority in her country, BBC reported. She said ethnic cleansing was “too strong” a term to describe the situation in the country. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has been criticised for not doing enough to stop atrocities against the community.
Suu Kyi said the nation would welcome members of the community who want to return. “I do not think there is ethnic cleansing going on,” she told the BBC. “I think ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening.”
Suu Kyi said the situation in the restive Rakhine state was more complicated that it seemed. “I think there is a lot of hostility there – it is Muslims killing Muslims as well,” she said. “It is not just a matter of ethnic cleansing as you put it – it is a matter of people on different sides of the divide, and this divide we are trying to close up.”
On Tuesday, the Indian government said that the country would identify, track and, if possible, deport 40,000 Rohingya Muslims living illegally in Jammu and Kashmir. The refugees said the plan was a clear violation of international law.
Myanmar treats Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not acknowledge their rights as an official ethnic group. The community has been subjected to violence by the Buddhist majority and the Army in Myanmar. While hundreds have died starving on boats while fleeing the country, many have settled in and around Jammu and Kashmir.
More than a lakh of them have been housed in temporary camps since violence against them increased in 2012. Access to the troubled Rakhine state has also been blocked to journalists and aid workers, according to a BBC report.