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Aung San Suu Kyi on the Rohingya Muslims

SNA (Tokyo) — Aung San Suu Kyi explains her view on the violence committed against the Rohingya Muslim community of Myanmar. Footage shot at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on April 17, 2013.


Aung San Suu Kyi: With regard to violence I object to violence committed by anybody against anybody, it does not matter whether the violence is committed by Buddhists or by Muslims or by Christians. I object to it entirely. I have always been against violence, especially in politics, and I am sorry that our people are not able to settle the differences across the table by talking to one another rather than by resorting to violence. I have said this very clearly that any violation of human rights and any acts of violence are inimical to a united and peaceful society, and I stand by that.

With regard to whether or not the Rohingya are citizens of the country, that depends very much on whether or not they meet the requirements of the citizenship laws as they now exist. There are those who say that the Burmese citizenship laws which are based on the 1982 law are not fair. Now that is a different question. At the present what we have to find out is whether all those who are entitled to citizenship under the present law have been given citizenship, and once they have been given citizenship, have they been given all the rights of citizens that has to be established first, and then we must go on to assess this citizenship law to find out whether it is line with international standards. I think every country is entitled to say that they will work in accordance with existing laws, but at the same time, every country has a responsibility to consider the possibility that the laws are not in keeping with international standards. This the Burmese government should have the courage to do that, to face the issue of citizenship fairly.

With regard to the Muslims of Burma, I met some of the Muslim leaders of Burma recently just before I came to Japan and we talked about all these communal problems. And it is very sad, because none of them had ever known any other country except this one, except Burma, and they did not feel that they belong anywhere else and it is sad for them. They were made to feel they did not belong in our country either. And this is a very sad state of affairs. We must learn to accommodate those with different views from ours.

But as I said earlier, if we want out people to sort out their differences, we must give them security, we must make them feel secure enough to talk to one another. If you don’t feel secure enough to go out of your house, if you’re afraid that every time you go out of the house you might get attacked by someone from a different community, how can you expect them to sit down and sort out their differences? Which is why I put so much emphasis on rule of law. This is why people find my attitude so boring, because rule of law is not exciting, but it is very necessary.

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