World Media

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi defends jailing of 2 Reuters journalists

The United Nations has said the treatment of Rohingya in Buddhist-majority Myanmar may amount to genocide a report that Suu Kyi's government has rejected

But Aung San Suu Kyi declined to criticize what she delicately referred to as "the military aspect" in her talk at the World Economic Forum on Asean. The rule of law must apply to everyone.

The journalists, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were found guilty on official secrets charges and sentenced earlier this month in a landmark case seen as a test of progress towards democracy in Myanmar.

Although Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement previous year to begin repatriating willing Rohingya back to Rakhine, Aung San Suu Kyi blamed Bangladesh for having stymied the process, which she said was supposed to have begun in January.

Reuters, in response to Suu Kyi's comments, said in a statement: "We continue to believe that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not violate Myanmar's espionage law, and at no point in time were they engaged in activity to hurt their country". "The case was held in open court". On Wednesday Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were honoured by a foundation set up by the late Win Tin, one of the country's most prominent political prisoners and a close ally of a Suu Kyi.

Her comments drew an indignant response from rights groups who have urged the Nobel Laureate to press for a presidential pardon for the reporters.

Ms. Suu Kyi said that she didn't know when the Rohingya would return home from Bangladesh, saying that her government had limited control over a slow-moving repatriation process.

Over the six years, her National League for Democracy Party has won a general election and grappled with a system that forces it to share power with its former ruling generals.

Sean Bain, of the International Commission of Jurists, said: "Open courts are created to shed light on the justice process".

Army-led "clearance operations" that started last August drove 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, carrying with them widespread accounts of atrocities - rape, murder and arson - by Myanmar police and troops.

The ferocity of that crackdown has thrust Myanmar into a firestorm of criticism as Western goodwill evaporates toward a nation ruled by a ruthless junta until 2015.

Last month, United Nations investigators said Myanmar's military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya with "genocidal intent", and that the commander-in-chief and five generals should be prosecuted for the gravest crimes under global law.

Haley said last month that findings of a yet-to-be released U.S. State Department investigation into Myanmar's Rohingya crisis were "consistent" with those of the United Nations report.

To attribute brutal killings of a minority, a "situation", the statement truly echoes why Aung San Suu Kyi has lost her place in the much of worldwide standings.

"There are of course ways in which we, with hindsight, might think that the situation could have been handled better", she said.

Ms Suu Kyi's comments follow the increasing pressure she has been under to comment on both the Reuters journalists and the Rohingya crisis.

It was widely seen as the authorities taking revenge on Reuters for their reporting on the Rakhine crisis which has seen the country accused of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority and of ethnic cleansing.