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Myanmar's Suu Kyi says in hindsight could have handled Rakhine issue better

Says Reuters journalists could appeal their sentence

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday said in hindsight her government could have handled the situation in Rakhine state better.

Some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Rakhine after government troops led a brutal crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state in response to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on 30 Myanmar police posts and a military base in August 2017.

"There are of course ways in which, with hindsight, the situation could've been handled better," Suu Kyi said at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Hanoi.

"But we believe that in order to have long-term security and stability we have to be fair to all sides. We can't choose who should be protected by rule of law," she said.

She also referred to the two jailed Reuters journalists and said they could appeal their seven-year sentence, and that their jailing had nothing to do with freedom of expression.

Asked how she felt about jailing journalists as a democratic leader, Suu Kyi said: "They were not jailed because they were journalists, they were jailed because...the court has decided that they have broken the Official Secrets Act."

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.

Their imprisonment has prompted an international outpouring of support, including a call for their release by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. The journalists were investigating the killing of Rohingya villagers by security forces at the time of their arrest last December, and had pleaded not guilty.

"I wonder whether very many people have actually read the summary of the judgement which had nothing to do with freedom of expression at all, it had to do with an Official Secrets Act," Suu Kyi said.

"If we believe in the rule of law, they have every right to appeal the judgment and to point out why the judgement was wrong."

 

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