POSTED: 2:15 a.m. HST, Apr 17, 2013
TOKYO (AP) — Communal violence threatening Myanmar's fledgling reforms must be stopped by ensuring the "rule of law" so that clashing groups feel secure enough for dialogue, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Wednesday.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, on a visit to Japan, said she objects to violence "committed by anybody against anybody" and that Buddhist-Muslim clashes threaten Myanmar's progress toward greater democracy and economic growth.
"There has never been a time when we've had complete peace within our land," Suu Kyi told reporters in Tokyo. "I'm confident we can achieve economic success, but without peace and unity we cannot expect to get economic success that is sustained."
Human rights groups and a U.N. envoy have criticized Myanmar's government for failing to prevent attacks mostly on minority Muslims by majority Buddhists. Sectarian violence in western Rakhine state has killed hundreds and driven more than 100,000 Rohingya Muslims from their homes.
"I have said that any violation of human rights and any acts of violence are inimical to a united and peaceful society and I stand by that," Suu Kyi said when asked whether she had anything to say to the country's Muslim minority.
"We must learn to accommodate those with different views, but if we want our people to sort out differences we must give them security," Suu Kyi said. "We must make them secure enough to talk to each other."
Boatloads of Rohingya have been washing up on Indonesia's shores, following a wave of violence in western Myanmar, where they are considered to have migrated illegally from neighboring Bangladesh.
Regarding the issue of citizenship for the stateless Rohingya, Suu Kyi said Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, is entitled to abide by its own laws, such as its citizenship law, but it also has to assess those laws to ensure they comply with international standards.
"This is what the Burmese government should do, to face the issue of citizenship fairly," she said.
In recent meetings with Muslim leaders, Suu Kyi said she found they had never known any country beside Myanmar.
"They did not feel they belong anywhere else. It is sad that they were made to feel they did not belong in our country either and this is a very sad state of affairs," she said.