We had hoped that Myanmar premier Aung San Suu Kyi’s much anticipated speech yesterday on the crisis in Rakhine state would have shown some evolution of her position from last month when she dismissed the credible reports of appalling human rights violations which were taking place as a “huge iceberg of misinformation” that was being peddled by “terrorists.”
Sadly, this was not the case.
Her speech was filled with half-truths, untruths, and, there is no other word for it, misinformation.
Equally remarkable and regrettable was the clear lack of empathy and basic lack of decency expressed in her speech.
It would be wrong to lay the blame for the pogrom that is occurring in Rakhine at Suu Kyi’s feet, as there is little doubt that it is the Myanmar army calling the shots, and that there is little that she can do to bring a halt to the state terror that is being carried out in her government’s name.
However, with her speech yesterday, she firmly placed herself on the side of those who are guilty of the worst kind of atrocity and confirmed her position as apologist-in-chief for the indefensible.
Her statement that there had been no clearance operations since September 5 is a flat-out lie.
Many of her other contentions were disingenuous at best, massively misleading at worst.
For instance, while it may be technically true that the majority of people in Rakhine state have not fled, a majority of the Rohingya population have, which is surely the more relevant statistic.
Similarly, if the Myanmar government has no fear of international scrutiny, barring media and aid organisations from Rakhine state is an odd way of showing this.
Finally, to blithely state that the refugees will be allowed to return if they can verify their nationality reveals the true agenda behind the pogrom, that of permanently clearing Rakhine of its minority Rohingya population.
The entire speech was nothing more than an extended apologia for the ethnic cleansing that the Myanmar army has been carrying out over the last four weeks and an especially disgraceful showing for a Nobel laureate.
What can one make of her statement that the Myanmar government wants to find out “why this exodus is happening” except to conclude that Suu Kyi has contempt for the truth, for the entire world, who were waiting to hear her speak on this issue, or for both?