“She only said three things to the people — they should live peacefully, the government is there to help them, and they should not quarrel among each other,” Lewa said, quoting information from a religious leader who was present.
Meanwhile, more than 4,000 Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh on Wednesday, according to a Bangladeshi military official quoted by Reuters. Thousands more were said to be waiting on a beach in Maungdaw, desperate for boats to convey them across the estuary that separates the two countries.
Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has faced criticism from the international community, but few actions have been taken by foreign governments or the United Nations Security Council to intervene in the conflict. Spokesmen for her office, as well as military leaders, have characterized the Rohingya as “Bengalis” or illegal immigrants and urged international observers to understand their campaign as targeting Islamist militants, not civilians. The Muslim presence in Rakhine has been attested to for centuries, and the Rohingya speak a language distinct from Bengali.
Given the divergent narratives, it is perhaps unsurprising that Suu Kyi's trip did not include an acknowledgment of the widespread atrocities documented by human rights groups. From her helicopter, she would have been able to see scores of incinerated villages, but the military has insisted that the Rohingya burned their own villages as they fled. State media has accused the Rohingya of fleeing to tarnish Burma's reputation.
Suu Kyi won national elections in a landslide in 2015, but the military, which controlled Burma for half a century, still wields the power to depose her.
“I hope everything will go fine as local villagers handle the rebuilding process,” Suu Kyi told the residents of Pan Taw Pyin village, according to the New York Times. “We all have to try our best to live peacefully.”