Myanmar's Suu Kyi defends court decision to jail Reuters journalists

Visitors flocked to Myanmar after western sanctions were lifted 2012

Visitors flocked to Myanmar after western sanctions were lifted 2012 Credit GEtty

Aung San Suu Kyi said on Thursday that she had formed commissions - at least half a dozen, to date - to look into the broader situation in Rakhine State.

Rights groups and global observers have seen the case as a bellwether for democracy and press freedom under Suu Kyi.

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.

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

Amid the ongoing Rohingya crisis, she also declined to attend last year's General Assembly meeting.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were sentenced to seven years after being convicted of breaking the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

The pair has denied the charges, insisting they were set up while exposing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in the village of Inn Din in September previous year.

At the Hanoi event, Aung San Suu Kyi acknowledged that her civilian government was bound to be blamed for whatever happened in Myanmar, even if the military still controls top cabinet posts and one-quarter of parliamentary seats.

But Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, questioned Suu Kyi's grasp of the case.

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Of the Myanmar businesspeople in attendance at this year's World Economic Forum, some applauded Aung San Suu Kyi's comments, while others said it was a missed opportunity to promote investment opportunities.

Suu Kyi said today (September 13) during a speech at the World Economic Forum being held in Vietnam that "there are of course ways in which, with hindsight, the situation could have been handled better" in Rakhine state.

She also defended Myanmar's security forces, saying "we have to be fair to all sides". "We can not choose and pick who should be protected by the rule of law". A report issued two weeks ago by a specially appointed United Nations human rights team recommended prosecuting senior Myanmar commanders for genocide and other crimes.

Bangladesh's foreign minister called on developed countries to take in more Rohingya on a humanitarian basis.

In response to Ms Suu Kyi's comments, news agency Reuters said: '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'.

Myanmar has denied allegations of atrocities, saying its military carried out justifiable actions against militants.

Rohingya refugees refuse to return to Myanmar without guarantees of safety, restitution for lost lands and citizenship.

"Many observers saw this trial as a test of freedom of the media, democracy and the rule of law in the country".

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