Burmese leader vows more transparency on Rohingya atrocities

Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi is welcomed by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) upon arrival at the Akasaka Palace state guest house to attend the 10th Mekong-Japan Summit in Tokyo on Oct 9, 2018.

UNDER pressure from the international community, Burmese (Myanmar) leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday vowed to raise the level of transparency for her government’s handling of the Rohingya crisis.

While seeking foreign investment ahead of a summit in Tokyo, Suu Kyi said she was aware that peace and stability in her country were important to secure funds from abroad.

“I’m ready to acknowledge that we have challenges to face particularly with regard to the Rakhine and with the struggles we have on the peace front,” Suu Kyi said in a speech before Japanese businessmen, as quoted by the AFP.

“We are not hiding this fact from our friends,” she said.

Suu Kyi, once garlanded as a global rights champion, has seen a sharp fall from grace due to her failure to speak up following a brutal military crackdown on Burma’s Rohingya minority.

“We understand that peace, reconciliation, harmony, stability, rule of law, human rights — all these have to be taken into consideration when we are looking for more investment, for greater economic opportunities,” she said.

“We wish to be very open and transparent to our friends,” she said. “If you have concerns, if you have worries, please discuss this openly with us.”

Rohingya refugees attend a ceremony organised to remember the first anniversary of a military crackdown that prompted a massive exodus of people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia on Aug 25, 2018. Source: AFP

A brutal military campaign that began in August last year drove more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from Burma into neighbouring Bangladesh.

The Rohingyas who fled their native Rakhine state in Burma now live in cramped refugee camps, fearful of returning despite a repatriation deal.

On Friday, the European Union warned Burma it could lose trade privileges over its “blatant violation of human rights”.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said a fact-finding mission would arrive in Burma soon to assess whether the highly preferential tariff arrangement Burma enjoys, known as “everything but arms” (EBA), should be withdrawn.

“We can not exclude this outcome and of course the reason is the blatant violation of human rights in Myanmar,” Malmstrom said.

“Our trade policy is values-based. These are not just words. We have to act when there are severe violations.”