President Duterte has apologised to Aung San Suu Kyi for claiming that genocide was taking place in Myanmar.
Referring to his recent comments today (Friday, April 13) the president claimed that his remark was just a “satirical barb” aimed at western countries for not offering asylum to displaced Rohingya Muslims.
The UN says nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh since August. This came after attacks on security forces by Muslim militants sparked a military crackdown.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar rejects the charges of genocide, saying its police and military had launched a legitimate counter-insurgency operation.
As we reported last week the president said the Philippines was willing to provide sanctuary for Rohingya fleeing what he described as “genocide”.
The comment drew an immediate rebuke from a Burmese government spokeswoman, who said it showed he had “no restraint” and knew nothing about the situation.
His words were particularly unexpected, as the Philippines and Myanmar are both members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which has a rigid policy of non-interference in one another’s affairs.
Now, in remarks aimed at the de-facto Burmese leader, the president has clarified that he was not interfering in what he called Myanmar’s “civil war”.
He said: “I will apologise to you, but if you have noticed my statement was almost a satire.
“I was doing a very sarcastic comment. I was just adapting their findings that there are a lot of violations in your country. I am not ready to intervene in your internal affairs.”
Addressing Europe and America, he added: “Do you have any plans of providing a safe sanctuary even for a moment for those who are really the victims of war? There’s a civil war going on. Nothing, they offered nothing.”
He then urged the western powers to provide “temporary relief” to the refugees, saying that he would do the same.
“I am ready to accept my share of responsibility in the name of humanity,” he said. “You know it’s not a dust that you can just sweep under the rug.”
During a visit to India in January, the president advised Suu Kyi to ignore any criticism by human rights organisations.