Naypyitaw, Myanmar: Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday broke her silence over the ongoing humanitarian crisis which led to evacuation of over half-a-million minority Rohingya Muslims from northern Rakhine state.
Delivering a State of the Union Address to the citizens, Suu Kyi said the country is ready to verify status of refugees 'at any time' to aid their return.
"The Myanmar citizenship verification process will need cooperation from all communities. We are prepared to start the refugee verification process for those who wish to return," she said, adding that she does not want Myanmar to be a nation divided by religious beliefs or ethnicity.
"Hate and fear are main scourges," she said.
"Myanmar does not fear 'international scrutiny' over Rohingya crisis," she added.
The Rohingya refugee crisis had shocked the world and prompted the United Nations to accuse the country's army of ethnic cleansing. She also said that she would like the world to think of Myanmar as a whole and not just a country with little afflicted areas.
She condemned the 'human rights violations, unlawful violence' on Rakhine state and said the country 'feels deeply for suffering' of all groups there.
“Myanmar feels deeply for suffering of all groups in Rakhine, concerned to hear about Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh,” the Myanmar leader said.
“We would like to find out why this exodus is happening and would like to talk to the people who have fled. The government has been making every effort to restore peace and stability and to bring harmony in Rakhine communities,” she added.
Myanmar has made a central committee for implementing rule of law and development of Rakhine.
"We have invited Dr Kofi Annan to lead a commission that would help us resolve long standing problems in Rakhine," she said.
Speaking about allegations and counter allegations, she said that everyone's voices will be heard and the culprits will be punished irrespective of race or religion.
Suu Kyi's refusal so far to defend the Rohingya over nearly a month of violence has baffled and enraged an international community that once feted her as the champion of Myanmar's democracy struggle.
But inside Myanmar, supporters say the 72-year-old lacks authority to reign in the army, which stands accused of waging a campaign of murder and arson that has driven more than 410,000 Rohingya from their homes.
The violence erupted in late August when the army retaliated against co-ordinated attacks by Rohingya militants.
Since then just under half of Rakhine's Rohingya population has poured into Bangladesh, where they now languish in one of the world's largest refugee camps....