Myanmar on Wednesday urged the United Nations to say that the crisis in the state of Rakhine, torn by violence, was weakening after strong international criticism.
The second vice president of Myanmar, Henry Van Thio, addressed the UN’s annual general meeting instead of leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who a day earlier delivered a pressing speech of patience.
Van Thio’s remarks are even less likely than Suu Kyi to alleviate global concerns while questioning the reasons for the robbery of members of the Muslim minority Rohingya.
“I am pleased to inform you that the situation has improved,” said Van Thio in his speech saying there had been no clashes since 5 September.
“We are therefore concerned that the number of Muslims crossing Bangladesh remains unabated. We must find the reason for this exodus,” he said.
The United Nations says more than 420,000 Rohingyas have fled security in Bangladesh in the face of an army campaign that includes burning villages and rape.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, described the campaign of genocide on Wednesday.
Van Thio did not use the term Rohingya, referring to them simply as Muslims. The Rohingya are widely abused in the majority Buddhist country.
Van Thio noted that the army campaign was in response to an attack by the rebels and that non-Muslims also suffered.
But the third commander of Myanmar thanked the foreign countries for their support, without directly referring to their criticisms.
“Humanitarian aid is our top priority and we are committed to ensuring that aid is received by all those who need it without discrimination,” said Mr. Van Thio.
Suu Kyi’s position has discouraged the human rights groups that campaigned for their freedom during the 15-year Nobel Peace Prize, under house arrest by a military junta.
But analysts say Suu Kyi, while now the country’s leader, may not be able to slow down the army, even if it took the political risk to speak.