Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with representatives from the country’s leading Islamic groups on Tuesday to discuss last month’s bout of rioting in central Burma.
According to the spokesperson of Islamic Religious Affairs Council-Myanmar Wunna Shwe, Suu Kyi met with the group to hear their opinions and to discuss how to prevent similar violent incidents from happening in the future.
“She said that we are Burmese citizens too so there is no need to feel dejected,” said Wunna Shwe.
“She said she would [promote] the rule of law as a party leader and also chair of the Committee for Rule of Law.”
In a blog published in the Huffington Post on Tuesday, former Bosnian foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations Muhamed Sacirbey blasted Suu Kyi for remaining silent during the latest bout of anti-Muslim violence in the country and questioned whether the Lady was now a part of the country’s rigid establishment.
“Aung San Suu Kyi has been notable by her silence, especially shrilling in view of recognition afforded her: the Nobel Peace Prize, audience before the US Congress, hosted by the White House and guest of Bono,” wrote Muhamed Sacirbey.
“The military junta has cleverly cloaked itself in Buddhist nationalism. Rather than challenge, is Aung San Suu Kyi adopting a similar strategy in pursuit of personal political ambitions as party leader, parliament member and future candidate?”
Suu Kyi received similar criticism for saying little during the two episodes of ethno-religious rioting in Arakan state last year and during the military’s latest offensive against the Kachin Independence Army in January.
On Tuesday, Wunna Shwe also issued a tacit warning to the country’s Islamic communities ahead of Thingyan Water Festival.
“Thingyan is the festival for mainly Buddhist people, which at the same time is delightful for all citizens in the country,” said the joint secretary of the Islamic Religious Affairs Council-Myanmar.
“Due to our concern with the [religious tensions], we have urged Muslim people to make merit at mosques and their homes, to avoid misunderstandings and to pray for peace and harmony among citizens in the country during the festival.”
In Mandalay, Thet Naing Htun, joint-secretary of Mandalay City Development Committee, said more than 1,000 policemen would be deployed in the city to provide security during the Thingyan water festival. CCTV cameras and metal detectors will be also installed at pavilions to provide protection for the festival’s revellers.
According to a report published by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Wednesday, more than 8,000 people are still being sheltered in temporary camps in Meikhtila, where riots first broke out on 20 March.
-Additional reporting provided by Aye Nai