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Suu Kyi speaks out at last

Suu Kyi speaks out at last

Condemned world over by her once admirers turned critics for her prolonged silence, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has finally spoken out. She said that, with hindsight, her government could have better handled the situation in Rakhine state that led to the forced displacement of more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims. Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Vietnam, Suu Kyi said her government had attempted to ensure "development and rule of law" in the far western state.

"There are, of course, ways in which we, with hindsight, might think that the situation could have been handled better," she said to Borge Brende, WEF President. "But we believe that for the sake of long-term stability and security, we have to be fair to all sides. The rule of law must apply to everybody. We cannot choose and pick who should be protected by rule of law," she said. An independent United Nations investigation into alleged human rights abuses carried out against the Rohingya has called for Myanmar's military leaders to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Myanmar's military has repeatedly denied that it has deliberately attacked unarmed Rohingyas. Suu Kyi was also asked about the two Reuters journalists who were jailed earlier this month for seven years after being found guilty of breaching the country's Official Secrets Act, for their part in uncovering a massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine. In her first public comments since the pair were found guilty, Suu Kyi said the two men, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, "were not jailed because they were journalists" but for breaking the country's colonial-era Official Secrets Act. She added the two were free to appeal the judgment. Suu Kyi has faced intense criticism for her role in the crisis and the jailing of the two Reuters journalists, with international bodies calling for the Nobel Peace laureate to be stripped of the honour. UN investigators into the Rohingya crisis found that "The State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has not used her de facto position as Head of Government nor her moral authority to stem or prevent the unfolding events in Rakhine State." The Myanmar state councillor told the WEF President the planned repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya was on hold until the refugees agree to return. "We cannot go fetch them from Bangladesh," she quipped. But a defiant Suu Kyi challenged anyone who had a problem with the judgment against two Reuters journalists to point out the "error" to her. That certainly did sound like a totally transformed Aung San Suu Kyi.

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