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Burmese Cardinal defends country's leader

by Eno Adeogun

Cardinal Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, said Aung San Suu Kyi's powers were limited by the constitution and highlighted the powers the army on the other hand, still had.

The Archbishop expressed his support in his message to the 24th World Congress of the Apostleship of the Sea in Taiwan - which the cardinal sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Aid to the Church in Need (UK)

He said: "As long as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi continues we have hope. She is a strong woman with strong principles.

"Despite the piercing criticisms of the international community, Myanmar depends on her for many compassionate responses."

Myanmar has been accused by Amnesty International of "burying its head in the sand" over the Rohingya crisis which has seen hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people flee the country amid allegations of ethnic cleansing.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi insisted most Rohingya Muslim villages have not been affected by violence, which further sparked criticism.

Caritas Bangladesh

It is estimated that 500,000 civilians have fled across the border from Burma to Bangladesh since the Burma Army began a major offensive against Rohingya civilians, in retaliation to a Rohingya insurgent group attacking police posts in Rakhine on 25th August.
The Burmese military responded with "clearance operations" and fleeing Rohingya said security forces shot indiscriminately, burned their homes and threatened them with death.

Cardinal Bo said that "democracy is hard won and it took 60 years to reach where the country is". He claimed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was "trying to stabilise the fragile democracy".

He said he was hopeful the country's leader would be able to tip the balance of power in her favour, from the army.

Caritas Bangladesh

He explained: "I think Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has an agenda to pull the country from the grips of the army which controls 25 percent of the parliamentary - and also the important - ministries. This is a tightrope walk and she is trying her best.

"Having said that, it is very unfortunate that the recent events did not show her in a good light.

"She should have spoken on behalf of the victims, especially so many women and children forced to leave under such painful circumstances. She lost the support of the international community by her silence."

More than 400,000 people have signed an online petition for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to have her Nobel Peace Prize taken back.

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