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Aung San Suu Kyi breaks silence over Rohingya crisis as international pressure mounts

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September 19, 2017

Aung San Suu Kyi has defended her country’s actions against the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority, as international pressure to end the violence grows.

Representatives of Britain, United States, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Australia, Canada, Sweden and Denmark have raised the issue with Burma’s national security adviser on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Ms Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize winner, has chosen to stay away from the gathering but used a speech in Burma to respond to the outcry over the situation.

Meanwhile, Ms Suu Kyi faced being stripped of the freedom of Oxford, the city where she studied and lived, as the council leader and lord mayor said she had “failed to live up to the reputation and beliefs we associated with you”.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Burma to neighbouring Bangladesh following a military crackdown, but Ms Suu Kyi told foreign diplomats gathered in the Burmese capital Naypyidaw that “more than half” of their villages were not affected by the violence.

She invited diplomats to visit those settlements so they could learn, along with the government, “why are they not at each other’s throats in these particular areas”.

Ms Suu Kyi said: “I understand that many of our friends throughout the world are concerned by reports of villages being burned and of hordes of refugees fleeing.

“There have been no conflicts since September 5 and no clearance operations. We too are concerned, we want to find out what the real problems are.”

Ms Suu Kyi read philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, between 1964 and 1967, and spent much of the 1980s living in the city with her husband, Tibetan scholar Michael Aris and their two sons, Kim and Alexander.

During her long campaign for democracy in Burma she was awarded the freedom of the city in 1997, an honour she was able to accept in person in 2012.

In an open letter, Oxford City Council’s leader Bob Price and Lord Mayor Jean Fooks said the city was home to a “wide range of faith communities” and “we know that you have in the past aspired to promote similar tolerance and inclusion” in Burma.(Agencies)

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