Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi lost her composure and made an anti-Muslim remark about a BBC presenter after she was grilled about Myanmar’s violence-hit Rohingya Muslims. “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim,” she was heard muttering after the interview with BBC Today presenter Mishal Husain, according to a new book.
Suu Kyi, who led her National League for Democracy party to a historic win in Myanmar’s November 8 elections, made the off-air comment about Husain after losing her temper during an interview where Husain asked her to condemn anti-Islamic sentiment, British newspaper The Telegraph reported.
Pakistani-origin Mishal Husain, 43, is the first Muslim presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. The comments were revealed in Peter Popham’s new book ‘The Lady And The Generals: Aung San Suu Kyi And Burma’s Struggle For Freedom’.
During the interview, the 70-year-old global peace icon refused to condemn anti-Islamic violence of Rohingya Muslims despite being repeatedly asked to do so by the BBC Today presenter.
Her response, according to The Telegraph, was: “I think there are many, many Buddhists who have also left the country for various reasons… This is a result of our sufferings under a dictatorial regime.”
Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims of Rakhine state have fled poverty and persecution in western Myanmar since religious violence erupted there in 2012, prompting international calls for investigation into what some analysts called “strong evidence” of genocide.
Last year Suu Kyi faced criticism for not speaking out in defence of the persecuted Muslim minority. Buddhist nationalist activists, including some firebrand monks, had whipped up anti-Muslim sentiments during a charged election campaign.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International urged Aung San Suu Kyi and her party’s new government to release all political prisoners when they take office next week, saying Thursday that Myanmar’s historic transition is an opportunity to break away from the repression of the former junta rule.
“Myanmar’s legal framework reads like a textbook of repression, and authorities have in recent years increasingly used it to silence dissent,” Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia director, said.
Serious questions remain unanswered about the new government’s power to improve human rights given that the constitution keeps several key institutions under the military’s control.