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Aung San Suu Kyi defends Burma against international criticism

Aung San Suu Kyi has spoken out about the Rohingya refugee crisis in a live address on television.

The Burma leader defended her country against international criticism over an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, saying that most of their villages remain intact, and that it is important to understand why conflict did not break out everywhere.

The Nobel Peace laureate's global image has been damaged by violence since Rohingya insurgents attacked Burma security forces on August 25.

More than 400,000 Rohingya fled their villages, many of which were burned. The government blamed the Rohingya themselves, but members of the persecuted minority said soldiers and Buddhist mobs attacked them.

Ms Suu Kyi told foreign diplomats gathered in Naypyitaw that "more than half" of Rohingya villages were not affected by the violence.

She invited the diplomats to visit those villages so they could learn, along with the government, "why are they not at each other's throats in these particular areas".

Her address came after a human rights organisation warned Rohingya Muslims were being wiped off the map in Burma.

The Arakan Project, which works to improve conditions for the ethnic minority, is documenting attacks on the three townships in the northern Rakhine state where Rohingya are concentrated.

It found that almost every tract of villages in Maungdaw had suffered some burning, and that all of Maungdaw had been almost completely abandoned by Rohingya.

Most Rohingya villages in Rathedaung, to the north, were targeted. So were three camps for Rohingya displaced in communal riots five years ago. Buthidaung, to the east, has so far been largely spared.

AP

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