World leaders have said this speech is Aung San Suu Kyi’s last chance to avoid international action against Myanmar. A crackdown on the country’s Muslim minority has led to a mass exodus into Bangladesh.
The 72-year-old Nobel laureate spoke about her country’s crackdown on the stateless Rohingya minority, which she had so far remained silent on. Her refusal to publicly urge restraint from the military had drawn international condemnation.
“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 the capital, Naypyidaw.
Before her live broadcast address, world powers had warned Myanmar of potential action if it did not act to end the crackdown on the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.
Read more: Rohingya people in Myanmar: what you need to know
Suu Kyi said she “felt deeply” for the suffering of the civilians who were caught up in the conflict and that she wanted to end the suffering as soon as possible. She said Myanmar did not fear international scrutiny, but asked for their help in finding a sustainable solution to the conflict.
“We are concerned to hear the number of Muslims fleeing areas to Bangladesh,” she said, condemning any “human rights violations” that may have exacerbated the crisis.
A series of coordinated attacks by Rohingya insurgents on Myanmar security forces in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine State triggered a crackdown by Myanmar forces that has sent a stream of Rohingya villagers fleeing to Bangladesh. About 400 people have been killed in the clashes in Buddist-majority Myanmar
Suu Kyi promised to take action against anyone who broke the law of the land and violated human rights, but insisted that most Rohingya Muslim villages had not been affected by violence and invited diplomats to visit them.
“The majority of Muslims have not joined the exodus,” she said. “We want to find out why this exodus is happening.”
The de facto leader, propped up by the military that used to rule Myanmar outright and retains considerable influence, also claimed that there was no clear picture of the events in Rakhine state.
“We too are concerned. We want to find out what the real problems are. There have been allegations and counter-allegations. We have to listen to them all,” she said.
Suu Kyi promised to implement the recommendations of the Annan commission delivered in August. The commission, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, looked at how to solve the sectarian tensions in the country.
The report warned against using force and to end restrictions on movement and citizenship for Rohingya people.
International outrage has grown steadily in recent weeks over a military crackdown that has led to the exodus of more than 400,000 of Myanmar’s Muslim minority to neighboring Bangladesh in less than a month.
Myanmar’s government has blamed the crisis on Rohingya insurgents who attacked security posts in late August. But the United Nations has described its response as “ethnic cleansing.”