She, however, admitted in hindsight that the Rohingya situation could have been handled better
Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday once again blamed neighbouring Bangladesh for failing to start the repatriation of the nearly one million-strong Rohingya refugee community to Myanmar.
Dhaka “was not ready” to start repatriation of the Rohingya in January as agreed under a deal between the two countries, she said during a discussion at the World Economic Forum in Hanoi, reports AFP.
This is not the first time Suu Kyi accused Bangladesh for delaying the repatriation process.
During a speech last month in Singapore, the de facto civilian leader of Myanmar said it was up to Bangladesh to decide how quickly Rohingya refugees would return to Myanmar, appearing to blame Dhaka for the delay.
The two countries last November signed a deal to repatriate them but it has stalled. Bangladesh insists the Rohingya are on its soil temporarily but has not forced them back.
“Myanmar has been ready to receive Rohingya returnees since 23 January as agreed in the memorandum of understanding,” she said in Singapore on August 25.
“Bangladesh would also have to decide how quickly they want the process to be completed,” Suu Kyi added.
Suu Kyi, who has bristled at foreign criticism of her country, on Thursday softened her defence of the crackdown against “terrorists” from the Muslim minority.
She acknowledged that the brutal crackdown on the Muslim minority — which the United Nations has cast as “ethnic cleansing” — could have been “handled better,” reports Reuters.
“There are of course ways (in) which, in hindsight, the situation could have been handled better,” she said.
A Myanmar security forces-led “clearance operations” that started August last year drove 7,00,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, carrying with them widespread accounts of atrocities — rape, murder and arson — by Myanmar police and troops.
The ferocity of that crackdown has thrust Myanmar into a firestorm of criticism as Western goodwill evaporates towards a country ruled by a ruthless junta until 2015.
A UN fact-finding panel has called for Myanmar army chief Min Aung Hlaing and several other top generals to be prosecuted for genocide.
The International Criminal Court has said it has jurisdiction to open an investigation, even though Myanmar is not a member of the tribunal.
Rohingya refugees refuse to return to Myanmar without guarantees of safety, restitution for lost lands and citizenship.
A UN panel is set to release the second part of its report into the atrocities over the coming days.
Myanmar will come under international spotlight again on September 25 when the UN General Assembly convenes in New York.
Local media have reported that Suu Kyi will not be attending the New York meeting.
The article appeared in the Bangladesh Tribune on 13 September 2018