Advertisement

Myanmar leader blames illegal immigration for world’s conflicts, as country drives out Rohingyas

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech to the nation over Rakhine and Rohingya situation, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar Sept. 19, 2017. .
Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech to the nation over Rakhine and Rohingya situation, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar Sept. 19, 2017. . Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar — Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Monday that the world is facing instability and conflict in part because illegal immigration spreads terrorism, as her country faces accusations of violently pushing out hundreds of thousands of unwanted Rohingya Muslims.

READ MORE: Rohingya mother cradling dead baby offers sobering look into crisis

Suu Kyi did not directly mention the refugee exodus in a speech to European and Asian foreign ministers in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw. But her speech highlighted the views of many in the country who see the Rohingya as illegal immigrants and accuse them of terrorist acts.

The ongoing Rohingya exodus is sure to be raised by the visitors at the meetings Monday and Tuesday.

WATCH: Trudeau to address Rohingya crisis in meeting with Myanmar leader

Trudeau to address Rohingya crisis in meeting with Myanmar leader
Trudeau to address Rohingya crisis in meeting with Myanmar leader
Suu Kyi said the world is in a new period of instability as conflicts around the world give rise to new threats and emergencies, citing “Illegal immigration’s spread of terrorism and violent extremism, social disharmony and even the threat of nuclear war. Conflicts take away peace from societies, leaving behind underdevelopment and poverty, pushing peoples and even countries away from one another.”READ MORE: Canada urged to revoke Myanmar leader’s honorary citizenship amid Rohingya crisisMyanmar has been widely criticized for the military crackdown that has driven more than 620,000 Rohingya to flee Rakhine state into neighboring Bangladesh. The United Nations has said the crackdown appears to be a campaign of “ethnic cleansing,” and some have called for re-imposing international sanctions that were lifted as Myanmar transitioned from military rule to elected government.Foreign ministers and representatives of 51 countries are meeting in Naypyitaw in a forum that aims to further political and economic cooperation but takes place against the backdrop of the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis. WATCH: International aid agencies say more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since late August
International Organization for Migration say makeshift camps now servicing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya
International Organization for Migration say makeshift camps now servicing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya
A flurry of diplomatic activity preceded Monday’s opening, with the foreign ministers of Germany and Sweden joining the EU’s foreign policy chief in a visit to the teeming refugee camps in Bangladesh. China’s Wang Yi was also in Bangladesh and met privately with Suu Kyi on Sunday in Myanmar following that trip.Suu Kyi is Myanmar’s foreign minister and state councilor, a title created for the country’s once-leading voice for democracy since she is constitutionally banned from the presidency. She does not command the military and cannot direct its operations in northern Rakhine state, but her remarks in seeming support of the brutal crackdown have damaged her global reputation.READ MORE: Myanmar leader tells residents of anti-Rohingya conflict zone ‘not to quarrel’In her speech to the visiting foreign ministers, Suu Kyi also cited natural disasters caused by climate change as compounding the world’s problems. She said mutual understanding of problems like terrorism would be crucial for peace and economic development.“I believe that if policymakers develop a true understanding on each of those constraints and difficulties, the process of addressing global problems will become easier and more effective,” she said. “It is only through mutual understanding that strong bonds of partnership can be forged.” WATCH: Amnesty International says satellite imagery shows burned Rohingya villages in Myanmar
Amnesty International says satellite imagery shows burned Rohingya villages in Myanmar
Amnesty International says satellite imagery shows burned Rohingya villages in Myanmar
The European Union’s top diplomat said earlier Monday that she is encouraging Suu Kyi to implement the recommendations of an expert panel on ensuring stability in Rakhine state and work was still needed on that.The commission, led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, called for promoting investment and community-directed growth to alleviate poverty in Rakhine, which Myanmar officials have supported. But it also called for Myanmar to grant citizenship and ensure other rights to the Rohingya, which are hotly disputed and effectively render most of them stateless.WATCH: Bob Geldof calls Aung San Suu Kyi a ‘murderer’ as he returns honour shared with Myanmar leader
Bob Geldof calls Aung San Suu Kyi a ‘murderer’ as he returns honour shared with Myanmar leader
Bob Geldof calls Aung San Suu Kyi a ‘murderer’ as he returns honour shared with Myanmar leader
The commission, established last year at Suu Kyi’s behest, issued its report the day before a Rohingya insurgent group killed dozens in attacks on multiple police posts on Aug. 25. The military’s response has been called disproportionate and a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. Rohingya now in Bangladesh have described indiscriminate shootings, rapes and arsons that wiped out whole villages. Some survivors bear wounds from gunshots and land mines.“Stopping the violence, stopping the flow of refugees and (guaranteeing) full humanitarian access to Rakhine state and safe, sustainable repatriation of the refugees is going to be needed,” said Federica Mogherini, the high representative for EU foreign policy.She said the EU was encouraging Bangladesh and Myanmar to work on that issue.
Story continues below advertisement