Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi today gave her first address to the nation since attacks by Rohingya Muslim insurgents on August 25 sparked a military response that has forced more than 410,000 Rohingya into neighboring Bangladesh.
Suu Kyi condemned human rights violations and said anyone responsible would face the law but she did not address UN accusations that the military campaign in Rakhine state was “textbook” ethnic cleansing.
Here are some reactions to her speech from diplomats, aid agency officials, human rights groups and others:
James Gomez, Amnesty International regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
“Aung San Suu Kyi today demonstrated that she and her government are still burying their heads in the sand over the horrors unfolding in Rakhine State.”
Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch deputy director, Asia Division.
In response to Suu Kyi’s statement that army clearance operations have ceased since September 5 - “If that is true, then who is burning all the villages we’ve seen in the past two weeks?”
Tin Maung Swe, secretary of the Rakhine State government.
He praised Suu Kyi for her “transparency” but was not optimistic about her pledge to promote harmony between Muslims and the largely Buddhist ethnic Rakhine communities in the state.
“The situation is ready to explode. It just needs a single spark.”
Sein Win, Myanmar defense minister.
“We will protect the ones who are in line with the law ... There are still many Muslim villages. We are taking good care of them,” he said, as he arrived for Suu Kyi’s speech.
Paul Edwards, Unicef deputy representative in Myanmar.
“We have to take at face value what she said about there being no further military operation since Sept 5. But of course none of us really know what’s happening there if we’re not there.”
Marzuki Darusman, chair of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.
“Two main issues emerge ... the categorical readiness of the government of Myanmar to receive back returnees at any time on the basis of a procedure that will have to be discussed at some point. And secondly, the readiness of the government to undertake to be globally scrutinized by the international community. These two points bode well.”
Hong Liang, Chinese ambassador to Myanmar.
“China’s position is very clear. We support the Myanmar government’s effort to restore the peace and stability in Rakhine.”
Nikolay A Listopadov, Russian ambassador to Myanmar.
“There are not reliable proofs, evidence to make such a condemnation, genocide and ethnic cleansing, no evidence.”
Andrew Kirkwood, United Nations Office for Project Services director and representative in Myanmar.
He welcomed Suu Kyi’s announcement that diplomats could travel to Rakhine state to see the situation for themselves.
“I think that that is a positive statement and we wait to see what follow-up there is.”
Ni Lar Thein, Yangon resident attending an open-air broadcast of Suu Kyi’s speech, which was in English.
“Mother Suu gave a speech today so that the whole world can know what’s actually happening in our country. We come here to show our support for her, no matter if we understand the speech or not.”