Fake news: Suu Kyi slams ‘misinformation’ after 125,000 Rohingya flee Myanmar bloodshed
The leader of Buddhist-majority Myanmar has come under pressure from countries with Muslim populations over the crisis
Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday alleged a “huge iceberg of misinformation” was distorting the picture of the Rohingya crisis, which has forced 125,000 of the Muslim minority to flee to Bangladesh.
In her first comments since Rohingya militant attacks sparked unrest on August 25, Suu Kyi said fake news was “calculated to create a lot of problems between different communities” and to promote “the interest of the terrorists”.
Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has come under intense pressure over her refusal to speak out against the treatment of the Rohingya or chastise the military.
Analysts say her obduracy despite the years of pressure from rights groups is a sop to the still powerful army and surging Buddhist nationalism in the Southeast Asian country.
Her intervention, quoted on the Facebook page of her State Counsellor’s office, followed a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has led the global chorus of condemnation of a Myanmar army crackdown on the Rohingya.
Suu Kyi decried the “fake information” spread on Twitter last week by the Turkish deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek, who shared photos purporting to be dead Rohingya that were later proven not to relate to the current crisis.
“Terrorism is new (for Myanmar) but the Government will do its best to make sure that this does not expand and spread all over Rakhine,” she was quoted as saying.
Hundreds have died since Rohingya militants raided police posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Over 6,0000 homes have been torched and there has been an exodus of Rohingya – who are reviled in Myanmar and denied citizenship – across the border into Bangladesh.
On Tuesday UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of the risk of ethnic cleansing and regional destabilisation.
In a rare letter expressing concern that the violence that has raged for nearly two weeks in the northwestern state could spiral into a “humanitarian catastrophe”, Guterres urged the UN Security Council to press for restraint and calm.
Additional reporting by Reuters