Aung San Suu Kyi has hit out at “a huge iceberg of misinformation” on violence affecting Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
The leader of the Buddhist-majority country has come under pressure from countries with Muslim populations over the crisis and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of the risk of ethnic cleansing.
It comes as it emerged the surge of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and seeking refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh has reached at least 125,000.
In a statement issued by her office on Facebook, Suu Kyi said the government had “already started defending all the people in Rakhine in the best way possible” and warned against misinformation that could mar relations with other countries.
She referred to tweets of images of killings posted by Turkey’s deputy prime minister that he later deleted because they were not even from Myanmar.
“She said that kind of fake information which was inflicted on the deputy prime minister was simply the tip of a huge iceberg of misinformation calculated to create a lot of problems between different countries and with the aim of promoting the interests of the terrorists,” the social media statement said.
On Tuesday, Guterres sent a rare letter to the 15-member security council warning of a human catastrophe.
In it, he said: “We are receiving constant reports of violence by Myanmar’s security forces including indiscriminate attacks. These will only further increase radicalization…It’s no longer possible to delay an effective action plan to address the root causes of a crisis. It will be crucial to give the Muslims of Rakhine state either nationality or, at least for now, a legal status that will allow them to have a normal life.”
Under the rarely used Article 99 of the UN Charter, Guterres can “bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”
While Guterres’ letter does not specifically involve Article 99, he writes that “the international community has a responsibility to undertake concerted efforts to prevent further escalation of the crisis.”
Myanmar’s 1.1 million Muslim Rohingya have long complained of persecution in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar.
The current crisis follows attacks by Rohingya insurgents on several police and army posts in Myanmar.
Myanmar says its security forces are fighting a legitimate campaign against “terrorists”.
Latest reports claim Myanmar has been laying landmines across a section of its border with Bangladesh for the past three days, according to two government sources in Dhaka, adding that the purpose may have been to prevent the return of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence.
Suu Kyi has come under increasing fire over her perceived unwillingness to speak out against the treatment of the Rohingya or chastise the military.
Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai and Muslim countries in Asia have led a growing chorus of criticism aimed at Myanmar State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi over the ongoing crisis.