A retired senior State Department official who previously served in Myanmar is taking issue with the prevailing international media narrative concerning Myanmar. She does not agree with the coverage of the ongoing crisis between the country’s security forces and reportedly tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, who are fleeing from the volatile Rakhine province to Bangladesh:
Much of the international criticism has been directed at Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s foreign minister and state counsellor — as well as the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her peaceful resistance campaign against the country’s longtime military junta rulers. She is now accused of indifference to the Rohingyas’ plight, with some calling for her Nobel Prize to be revoked:
But Priscilla Clapp — a 30-year State Department diplomat who served as U.S. chief of mission in Myanmar from 1999-2002, and now is a senior adviser at the U.S. Institute for Peace — is pushing back on the claims of the media and human rights groups.
In a Thursday appearance on France 24, Clapp said that Kyi had been working with a United Nations commission led by former Secretary General Kofi Annan on peace efforts in the region. According to Clapp, the recent large-scale attacks by foreign-funded Islamic terrorist groups targeting Myanmar’s security forces, which sparked the current crisis, were purposefully timed to derail those efforts.
Clapp was preceeded by a France 24 correspondent pushing the accepted international media version of events — that Kyi’s security forces are entirely to blame — to which Clapp replied:
I simply don’t accept the narrative that we just heard.
F24: You were chief of mission in Burma from 1999 to 2002, it was a time that Aung San Suu Kyi was an icon, a beacon of peaceful resistance. She was put under house arrest while you were there. Has your perception of her changed in the past two weeks?
Clapp: No. I simply don’t accept the narrative that we just heard.
There was indeed a terrorist attack in Rakhine. It came from outside, it was perpetrated by people in the Rohingya diaspora living in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia coming in through Bangladesh. And they have killed a lot of security forces.
This started in October and the latest attack was timed to follow the recommendations, the presentation of the recommendations of the Kofi Annan international commission on Rakhine, which Aung Sun Suu Kyi has accepted and agreed to implement. These recommendations call for a long-term solution there. She was already working on it when it was disrupted by this latest terrorist attack. Their tactics are terrorism. There’s no question about it.
[Kyi is] not calling the entire Rohingya population terrorists, she is referring to a group of people who are going around with guns, machetes, and IEDs and killing their own people in addition to Buddhists, Hindus, and others that get in their way.
They have killed a lot of security forces, and they are wreaking havoc in the region. The people who are running and fleeing out to Bangladesh are not only fleeing the response of the security forces, they are fleeing their own radical groups because they’ve been attacking Rohingya, and in particular the leadership who were trying to work with the government on the citizenship process and other humanitarian efforts that were underway there.
This has all been thrown into a [inaudible] right now with the confusion that has been sown by this latest attack. And I think that the international community has to sort out the facts before making accusations.