Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, facing unprecedented criticism for her government’s handling of the Rohingya refugee crisis in her nation, has finally conceded that the situation in Rakhine state “could have been better handled”. This, however, will be cold comfort for the more than 700,000 Rohingya who fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape a crackdown by the Myanmar Army — a campaign so brutal that United Nations rights officials have described it as nothing short of ethnic cleansing. A recent report by the United Nations Human Rights Council even recommended that Myanmar’s top generals be investigated and prosecuted for “genocide” in Rakhine state. Report after report by rights activists and journalists has documented extrajudicial killings and rapes by Myanmarese troops and the destruction of complete villages in Rakhine, with most estimates putting the death toll in last year’s bloodshed at 10,000. Ms Suu Kyi rarely speaks at public events about the situation in Rakhine, or accepts questions from the media about the Rohingya refugees, or even utters the word “Rohingya”.
Suu Kyi must stop defending the indefensible