Suu Kyi urges protection for minorities

Suu Kyi urges protection for minorities

Suu Kyi urges protection for minorities

Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi makes her first speech and asks a question during a regular session of Myanmar’s Lower House of Parliament.

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, yesterday, used her first speech in parliament to call for laws to protect the rights of the strife-torn nation’s myriad ethnic minorities in her inaugural address to the fledgling parliament, Agence France-Presse reported.

The veteran activist used her first speech to lawmakers to support a motion by a ruling-party lawmaker on upholding ethnic minority rights. “To become a truly democratic union with a spirit of the union, equal rights and mutual respect, I urge all members of parliament to discuss the enactment of the laws needed to protect equal rights of ethnicities,” she said.

Protecting ethnic rights required more than just maintaining ethnic languages and culture, she added, noting that ethnic minority groups suffer above-average poverty rates.

Suu Kyi has long championed the rights of ethnic minorities, including the Shan, Karen and Kachin. She was not likely referring to Muslim Rohingyas - recently embroiled in ethnic violence that drew a strong government crackdown - because most Myanmar people consider them Bangladeshi exiles, according to the Associated Press.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner won her first seat in the legislature in landmark April by-elections, marking a dramatic transformation from a longtime political prisoner to a key political figure in the budding reform process.