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Aung San Suu Kyi Denounces Human Rights Violations in Rakhine State

Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi meets with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Sept. 15, 2017.

Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi says her government condemns all human rights violations in western Rakhine state, where over 400,000 Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee to safety into neighboring Bangladesh.

In an address Tuesday in the capital of Naypyitaw before a group of foreign diplomats, the Nobel Peace laureate, who serves as Myanmar's state councilor, said her country does not fear international scrutiny, and offered her assurance that any human rights violations or "acts that impair stability and harmony" will be dealt with "in accordance with strict norms of justice."

But she insisted that all "allegations are based on solid evidence before we take action."

She said Myanmar will set up a verification process for those refugees who wish to return home, and vowed their request "will be accepted without hesitation." But she also said many Muslims have remained in their homes, which have not been destroyed in the conflict, and invited the diplomats to join her government in finding out why those Muslims have integrated successfully in Rakhine state.

Rakhine state has been engulfed in violence since a group of Rohingya militants attacked dozens of police posts and an army base Aug. 25. Security forces responded with an aggressive counteroffensive that triggered the current exodus, which the United Nations has described as "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

Long admired as a beacon of democracy over her decades of defiance towards Myanmar's former ruling military junta, Aung San Suu Kyi has borne the brunt of international criticism for her government's response to the violence. She has previously dismissed reports of the crisis in Rakhine state as "fake information designed to promote the interests of "terrorists."

The Rohingya are considered to be Bangladeshi migrants and are denied citizenship in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, even if they can show that their families have been in Myanmar for generations.