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Rohingya refugees denounce Aung San Suu Kyi speech

Refugees in Bangladesh have dismissed her promises of bringing human rights violators to justice

Rohingya refugees denounce Aung San Suu Kyi speech

Rohingya Muslim refugees arrive from Myanmar through Lomba Beel after crossing the Naf River in the Bangladeshi town of Teknaf on Sept. 7. (Photo by K M Asad/AFP)

Stephan Uttom and Rock Ronald Rozario, Dhaka
Bangladesh

September 19, 2017

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Despite Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi condemning all human rights violations in troubled Rakhine State in her first public speech on the situation, many of the 410,000 Rohingya who have fled the violence have little faith in her words.  

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh who spoke with ucanews,com said Suu Kyi's address to the nation on Sept. 19 on the Rakhine crisis and the exodus of the Rohingya was "unsatisfactory" and full of "false promises."

Suu Kyi addressed international diplomats in the Myanmar capital criticism of her and her government condemning human rights violations but avoided any detail on the widespread accusations of atrocities against the Rohingya that have include murder, rape and widespread property destruction.

"We condemn all human rights violations and unlawful violence. We are committed to the restoration of peace and stability and rule of law throughout the state," Suu Kyi said in her address in the capital, Naypyitaw.

"Action will be taken against all people, regardless of their religion, race and political position, who go against the law of the land and violate human rights," she said.

Muhammad Hashem, 35, said Suu Kyi's speech was full of lies. He was a teacher in Maungdaw who fled Myanmar military’s  action in Rakhine State after Aug. 25.

"It seems she is saying the allegations of atrocities are just allegations and what the whole world knows is false. Her promises of repatriating Rohingya and allow them to live in peace a blatant lie," he told ucanews.com.

"She has already shown her true colors by taking side with military and Buddhist extremists, and today's speech was just an eye-wash," he said.

James Gomez, Director for South East Asia and the Pacific, for Amnesty International supported the view of the refugees saying: "Aung San Suu Kyi today demonstrated that she and her government are still burying their heads in the sand over the horrors unfolding in Rakhine State. At times, her speech amounted to little more than a mix of untruths and victim blaming."

Jamir Ahmed, 30, arrived to Bangladesh on Sept. 13 from Buthidaung in Rakhine with his family. His house was burnt down and he was shot in the leg by Myanmar soldiers as he fled.

"By saying the allegations of violence against Rohingya need investigation she is denying the facts. The world knows what happened and it is hard to believe she doesn't know the truth," Ahmed told ucanews.com.

"Her speech was prepared by the military and full of lies and false promises," he said.

Muhammad Noor, a Rohingya refugee who migrated and settled in Kutupalong camp in Cox's Bazar in 1992, said Suu Kyi's speech glossed over the "truth about the genocide" of the Rohingya.

"If there was no genocide and widespread destruction of houses, why should the Rohingya leave their homeland? If you look at desperation of refugees, you will know they are not lying," Noor told ucanews.com.

"All of what Suu Kyi said was full of lies and false promises. She knows everything and there is no need of investigation. She just tried to fool the international community," he said.

"Suu Kyi's speech failed to deliver hope for refugees and we are doubtful she can make any difference for us through the intervention of the international community and the United Nations," he added.

Mahmud Hasan, a Rohingya who moved to Bangladesh in 2009, said Suu Kyi had lost the trust of the Muslim ethnic group.

"Suu Kyi betrayed the trust of the Rohingya in the past, and today as well. Before elections she said the Rohingya would be allowed to live in Myanmar with citizen rights, but in fact their conditions worsened since she came to power," Hasan told ucanews.com.

"All the Rohingya want to go back to their homeland once they are promised to live in peace. But we don't believe anymore she can help us as she has been supporting military and care little about plight of the Rohingyas. Her speech today was just for show to lessen the international condemnation over violence against us."

 

Muslim groups in Bangladesh

Hefazat-e-Islam, an umbrella organization of Islamic hardliners organized a protest rally with some 20,000 members and tried to lay a siege on Myanmar embassy in Dhaka on Sept. 18. The group has threatened to avenge Rohingya persecution on several occasions. Mufti Faizullah, a member of central committee of Hefazat said that Suu Kyi just told lies and didn't express sympathy for the Rohingya at all.

"We don't believe she can ensure peaceful living all communities in Myanmar," said Faizullah. "I appeal to all humanists and the international community to press Myanmar and its military by all means, even by force, to bring a solution to this crisis."

In the speech the Nobel Peace Laureate promised to implement all the recommendations of a report by an international expert panel led by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan.

"I appreciate Suu Kyi in that she said will try to look at real problems in Rakhine and promised to implement recommendations from Kofi Annan's commission report," Maolana Fariduddin Masoud, president of Bangladesh Jamiyat-ul-Ulema, a liberal Muslim group told ucanews.com. "But I doubt they would be allowed to visit actual conflict zones," Masoud said.

"The speech was very strategic and it intended to appease international pressure on Myanmar. I still want to believe she will remain faithful to her promises and ensure a solution to the Rohingya crisis in any possible way."

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