Friday, November 16, 2012

Rohingya crisis is Bangladesh’s responsibility too, says Suu Kyi

Friday, 16 November 2012 15:06 Mizzima News

Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday described the sectarian violence in Burma’s Rakhine State a “huge international tragedy” and said illegal migration from Bangladesh to Burma had to be stopped.

Conditions are rough in Teknaf camp in Bangladesh. Movement of refugees is restricted and housing is in need of repair or renewal. Photo: UNHCR

Speaking on NDTV news channel on her third day in India, Suu Kyi said that she had declined to speak out on behalf of the Rohingya community because she wanted to “promote reconciliation” after the recent bloodshed.

“Don't forget that violence has been committed by both sides,” she stated. “This is why I prefer not to take sides and also I want to work towards reconciliation.

“Bangladesh will say all these people have come from Burma, and the Burmese say all these people have come over from Bangladesh.

“We have got to put a stop to it [illegal immigration] otherwise there will never be an end to the problem,” she said.

“Most people seem to think there is only one country involved in this border issue,” she continued. “There are two countries. There is Bangladesh on one side and Burma on the other, and the security of the border surely is the responsibility of both countries.”

The Rohingya, who make up the vast majority of those displaced in the fighting, are described by the UN as among the world's most persecuted minorities, and are not officially recognized as citizens in Burma, due in part to the 1982 Citizenship Law which stipulates that the country has 135 ethnic groups—the Rohingya not being one of them—which can trace their roots in Burma to before 1823—the year of the First Anglo-Burmese war.

The UN has called on all countries in the region to open their borders to Rohingya boatpeople—many of whom are fleeing the violence by taking to the high seas—in the wake of recent fatal tragedies when boats carrying refugees from Burma have sunk or washed ashore in the Bay of Bengal.

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