Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday said the danger of terrorist activities in Rakhine state could lead to grave consequences for countries in the region, reported Reuters.
“The danger of terrorist activities, which was the initial cause of events leading to the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine remains real and present today,” she said. “Unless this security challenge is addressed, the risk of inter-communal violence will remain. It is a threat that could have grave consequences, not just for Myanmar but also for other countries in our region and beyond.”
Suu Kyi was delivering a lecture in Singapore, where she is on a four-day working visit.
Suu Kyi said it was difficult to say when Rohingya refugees, who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar in large numbers, would return, reported Reuters. “The returnees have to be sent back by Bangladesh,” she said. “We can only welcome them at the border. I think Bangladesh would also have to decide how quickly it wants the process to be completed.”
Suu Kyi said places have been demarcated to resettle Rohingyas, reported Reuters. Last year, Myanmar and Bangladesh reached an agreement on their repatriation.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner has been criticised for failing to stand up for more than 1 million stateless Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine, many of whom fled to neighbouring countries. 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. Myanmar has also rejected United Nations’ claims of ethnic cleansing and blamed Rohingya for being “terrorists”.
Myanmar’s de facto leader said her relationship with the military was “not that bad”. “Don’t forget that we have three members of the Cabinet who are in fact military men, generals, and they’re all rather sweet,” she said. The military ruled Myanmar for close to 50 years after coming to power on the back of a coup in 1962, and had held Suu Kyi under house arrest until 2010.
Suu Kyi’s party swept the elections in 2015, but is barred from becoming president under the country’s constitution. She added that the transition to democracy was “still incomplete”.