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Myanmar public stand firm with embattled Suu Kyi

Despite foreign condemnation of her silence over the Rohingya issue, she remains popular at home

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Myanmar public stand firm with embattled Suu Kyi

Supporters make a mosaic portrait of Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi with placards during an event to celebrate her 74th birthday at Mahabandula Park in Yangon on June 19. (Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/AFP)

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On a recent Sunday morning, hundreds of ardent supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi took to the streets of Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial hub, and waved national flags to show moral support for the country’s embattled leader.

Their placards read “We stand with Myanmar” and “We stand with Mother Suu” while a famous singer told the crowds that “Suu Kyi is the bravest leader in the world.”

The rally was part of a publicity campaign backed by the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) and more rallies are planned for Mandalay, Naypyitaw, Taunggyi and Sagaing.

Rallies, billboards and praise on social media followed Suu Kyi’s shock announcement that she would personally represent Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to defend the country against genocide charges.

Suu Kyi, a one-time democracy icon in the Buddhist-majority country, will be defending the military crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate remains popular at home, especially among the majority Bamar people, but her reputation outside Myanmar has been tarnished over her silence on the ill-treatment of Rohingya.

More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee Rakhine to neighboring Bangladesh after the bloody crackdown on Rohingya in August 2017 which, according to United Nations investigators, was carried out with “genocidal intent.”

The government and the military deny genocide and claim that they were carrying out a counterinsurgency operation against Rohingya militants who had attacked security posts.

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