January 12, 2018 / 5:12 AM / 5 days ago

Myanmar's Suu Kyi says army admission on killings a positive step

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Friday it was “positive” that the country’s military was taking responsibility for the actions of troops, after the army said soldiers were involved in killing 10 captured Rohingya Muslims.

The military said in a statement on Wednesday that soldiers and Buddhist villagers had murdered 10 Muslim “terrorists” at a village in northern Rakhine State at the beginning of September and that action would be taken against those responsible.

Asked at a joint news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono about the rare admission of wrongdoing by the military, known as the Tatmadaw, Suu Kyi said: ”The Tatmadaw investigated and will take necessary action on that.

“It is a new step for our country,” she said, according to a transcript posted on her Facebook page. “I see it that way because a country needs to take responsibility for the rule of law in the country, and this is the first step on the road of taking responsibility and it is a positive thing.”

Suu Kyi rarely speaks to the media and has said little in public about the crisis in the western state. The army, which is not under the control of the civilian government, launched a sweeping counteroffensive in northern Rakhine in response to Rohingya militant attacks on Aug. 25, triggering an exodus of more than 650,000 Rohingya villagers to Bangladesh.

Asked if the revelations about the killing at the village of Inn Din, about 50 km (30 miles) north of the state capital Sittwe, could be a concern for refugees who are being asked to return, Suu Kyi said: ”Some people might be afraid, but this is not something that has happened right now.

“It was an investigation into a case that happened before. So doing this investigation is a deterrent so that similar cases don’t happen later.”

Suu Kyi was speaking following a meeting in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw at which Kono asked her to ensure the “safe and voluntary” resettlement of those who have fled, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo.

The Japanese foreign minister said Tokyo, one of Myanmar’s biggest foreign aid donors, planned to give about $20 million for humanitarian support to Rohingya refugees, subject to parliamentary approval, Kyodo said.

“Japan wants to actively support Myanmar’s efforts,” Kyodo quoted Kono as telling the news conference.

Myanmar and Bangladesh have been discussing a plan to repatriate the refugees.

Prior to the joint news conference, the Japanese government announced emergency grant aid of around $3 million to Myanmar to help facilitate the return of the Rohingya.

($1 = 111.2200 yen)

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, Shoon Naing in Singapore and Simon Lewis in Yangon; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alex Richardson

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