“The violence and persecution by military and vigilantes which resulted in driving 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh is without excuse,” Pence told Suu Kyi on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Singapore. “I’m anxious to hear about the progress you’re making in holding those accountable who are responsible.”
The Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, has been accused of using rape, murder and arson in a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing that drove hundreds of thousands to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, where they languish in what has become the world’s largest refugee camp. The Myanmar government has repeatedly denied that its soldiers deliberately attacked unarmed Rohingya.
Pence also brought up the jailing of two Reuters reporters who were sentenced to seven years in prison after being found guilty in September of breaching the country’s Official Secrets Act.
“The arrest and jailing of two journalists last fall was deeply troubling to millions of Americans and I look forward to speaking to you about the premium that we place on a free and independent press,” he said.
Suu Kyi responded by saying she understood the situation better than her country’s critics.
“We are in a better position to explain to you what is happening,” she said.s
Suu Kyi has come under fierce criticism for her handling of the crisis in Rakhine state and for failing to safeguard human rights in the country.