Duterte apologizes for saying Myanmar is witnessing “genocide”

PHILIPPINES (OBSERVATORY) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday apologized to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi for saying there was genocide in her country and said his statement was a mockery of the West for not receiving Rohingya Muslims.

The United Nations and rights groups say nearly 700,000 mainly Muslim Rohingyas have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since August after attacks by Rohingya gunmen on security forces for a military campaign called by the United Nations for ethnic cleansing.

Duterte said last week that the Philippines was ready to provide safe haven for fleeing Rohingya from what it called “genocide”, a statement the Myanmar government spokesman said showed that Duterte had no self-restraint and knew nothing about Myanmar.

But Duterte said in remarks to Suu Kyi that he was not interfering in what he called the “civil war” in Myanmar.

“I will apologize to you, but if you have noticed, my statement was like a mockery … I do not want to interfere in your (internal affairs),” he told reporters.

Duterte said he was critical of European countries that accuse Myanmar of massive human rights abuses while doing little to help the Rohingya.