Levin Criticizes Suu Kyi Comments on Treatment of Rohingya

Sep 13, 2018 Issues: Foreign Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Representative Sandy Levin (D-MI) issued the following statement in response to comments made at the World Economic Forum by Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the civilian government in Burma, also known as Myanmar:

I find the comments made yesterday by Aung San Suu Kyi deeply disappointing and disturbing.

When she said “there are of course ways in which with hindsight I think the situation could have been handled better,” it drastically understates the magnitude of the crimes against humanity that were occurring.

And when she said that “we believe that for the sake of long-term stability and security, we have to be fair to all sides,” it is a message of minimisation.

I had the privilege of meeting Aung San Suu Kyi a few years ago as part of a delegation led by Nancy Pelosi, joining in admiration for her perseverance and triumph over oppression.

There has been a hesitation by some to criticize Suu Kyi for her silence, worrying that it could make it more likely the military would take over the civilian government she leads.

Yesterday she said “although we have only 75 percent of the power, we have to accept 100 percent of the responsibility… That’s what elected government is about.”

Aung San Suu Kyi does not need to accept 100 percent of the responsibility for all the tragic events in Burma to speak about the atrocities committed against the Rohingya. Nor does she need to accept all responsibility to take the step, authorized in the civilian government, to release the reporters imprisoned by the government, as I urged in the resolution I introduced last week and during my remarks on the House Floor yesterday.

When the late John McCain and Dick Durbin, in the Senate, and I, in the House, introduced legislation last year there was hesitation for the Congress to speak clearly and strongly about the human tragedy facing the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

It is vital that we do so now, and I urge that the House pass such a resolution when it returns in 10 days.

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Earlier this year and as reports of atrocities continued to mount, Rep. Levin spoke on the House Floor this past May urging his colleagues to support Congressional action to confront the ethnic cleansing.

Last week, Rep. Levin introduced a new resolution calling on Suu Kyi to exercise her authority as leader of the civilian government to take steps to release two Reuters journalists recently convicted and imprisoned by the Burmese government after their reporting helped bring to light the widespread violence against the Rohingya

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