Aung San Suu Kyi Makes First Visit to Rohingya Conflict Zone in Myanmar


She did, an toddler in a single hand, a toddler gripping the opposite. Miraculously, all of her kids made it to Bangladesh. But her husband, who had been tilling the fields when the troopers got here, was lacking. As she ran, she noticed a toddler facedown in a rice paddy. The final Ms. Setara noticed of her village was an orange glow burning from the world the place her home had been.

“If the color of the fire was in a dress it would be beautiful,” she mentioned, wanting down at her muddy garments, “but it made me very fearful when I saw it.”

A Human Rights Watch investigation documented that elements of Taung Pyo have been nonetheless burning in mid-September as Myanmar troopers patrolled the village, although Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi mentioned that each one “clearance operations” towards militants had ceased on Sept. 5.


Maung Thar Aung, 32, pictured in late August at a camp in northern Rakhine State for Buddhists displaced by violence. State media have centered on the plight of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists quite than the Rohingya.

Adam Dean for The New York Times

While Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as a political prisoner in 1991, controls the nation’s civilian authorities, she has no authority over Myanmar’s navy.

Refugees from Taung Pyo, identified within the Rohingya dialect as Tumbru, mentioned that there have been virtually no Rohingya left in the neighborhood — they’d both bolted to Bangladesh, been killed by gunfire or been arrested. Another villager, Mohamed Aktar, mentioned he counted at the least three our bodies as he fled the world in late August.

“Maybe more,” he mentioned. “I ran so fast I could not count well.”

Bangladesh has accused Myanmar’s navy of laying land mines within the space. One lady who tried to cross again to Taung Pyo, to be able to examine the harm to her residence, stepped on a mine and misplaced most of her leg. She was handled in a hospital again in Bangladesh.

The Myanmar navy mentioned that any land mines discovered within the space have been the work of Rohingya insurgents. State media, in the meantime, have centered on the plight of ethnic Rakhine who had fled their properties and took refuge in a police submit close to Taung Pyo.

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The overwhelming majority of residents in northern Maungdaw township, which incorporates Taung Pyo, are Rohingya Muslims. But the civil servants there — lecturers, nurses, directors — are typically ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.

Stories within the native press centered on how rice, beans and cooking oil had been delivered to Rakhine Buddhists sheltering in Taung Pyo. The stranded group was finally airlifted to security.

By distinction, for weeks, worldwide help teams have been unable to ship help to Rohingya remoted in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships, the three worst-affected areas. Some Rohingya mentioned by cellphone earlier this week that they nonetheless had not gotten enough meals provides.

Local information media revealed pictures of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday badembly Rohingya in one other village in Maungdaw. Before her sat rows of males sporting pristine white prayer caps.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has repeatedly mentioned that the worldwide group ought to attempt to perceive why some Rohingya have determined to remain in Rakhine, quite than flee to Bangladesh.


Burned villages in northern Rakhine State in October. Rights teams have documented the Myanmar navy’s use of arson to drive out the Rohingya.

Marion Thibaut/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“I hope everything will go fine as local villagers handle the rebuilding process,” Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi instructed the residents of Pan Taw Pyin village. “We all have to try our best to live peacefully.”

But critics say that Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, in essentially the most charitable interpretation of her actions, has allowed herself to be blinded to the realities of ethnic cleaning in Rakhine.

“Just as important as finally visiting affected areas is the need for Aung San Suu Kyi to actually understand what happened there. And that requires her to break the military cordon around the information she’s receiving and start listening to other sources,” mentioned Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

“Some scales need to fall from her eyes about northern Rakhine State, and one hopes that this could be the beginning of that process,” he mentioned.

Helping the Rohingya

So far, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s governing social gathering, the National League for Democracy, has not despatched any investigators to the refugee camps in Bangladesh to listen to the tales of the greater than 600,000 Rohingya who’ve fled.

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The Myanmar authorities has mentioned it’s keen to repatriate these Rohingya who’ve flocked to Bangladesh over the previous two months, if they will show they used to dwell in Rakhine.

But many Rohingya escaped their burning villages with none paperwork, so it’s not clear how they may have the ability to show their former residency. Most Rohingya have been stripped of their citizenship by the Myanmar authorities, making them stateless.

On Tuesday, U Zaw Htay, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s spokesman, reiterated that Myanmar was prepared to begin repatriation instantly, however then accused Bangladesh of dragging its ft to be able to wheedle cash out of a sympathetic worldwide group.

“I think the reason Bangladesh doesn’t want to send refugees back to Myanmar might be because they announced that they would build the world’s biggest refugee camp,” he mentioned. “That’s why they don’t want to send refugees back to Myanmar, because they are afraid they will lose international donations.”

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