Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time spoke about her country's persecuted Rohingya Muslims, saying that the sensitive issue must be addressed "very, very carefully."
When asked if the Rohingya Muslim community should be given citizenship, she said: "The government is now verifying the citizenship status under the 1982 citizenship law. I think they should go about it very quickly and very transparently and then decide what the next steps in the process should be."
She told the Washington Post via a telephone interview that Myanmar has many minorities and that she is always "talking up for the right of minorities and peace and harmony and for equality and so on and so on ...."
Aung said the protection of rights of minorities is an issue which should be addressed very, very carefully, and as quickly and effectively as possible, adding that the government was not doing enough about the issue.
When pressed further on what she meant by "very, very carefully," she replied: "It just means that it is such a sensitive issue and there are so many racial and religious groups, that whatever we do to one group may have an impact on other groups as well. So this is an extremely complex situation, and not something that can be resolved overnight."
Aung, who is the chair of the National League for Democracy , had been under house arrest in Myanmar since early 1990s. She was released in 2010 and now sits as an opposition member of parliament in Myanmar.
While highlighting her two decades of fight against the military regime in Myanmar, BBC news recently noted her continued silence over Rohingya Muslims, who live in Rakhine State, near the western border with Bangladesh.
The plight of Ronhingya Muslims hit worldwide news headlines after they were found stranded on boats fleeing for a better life in other South East Asian countries.
Aung's supporters have said that her silence on the issue does not mean she does not care about the Rohingyas, but it has more to do with politics, BBC reported. Myanmar's presidential elections are due to be held in November 2015. She is now carefully choosing her battles, some observers have noted.
BBC highlighted that by defending the Rohingya community, Aung would "immediately put herself at odds with powerful Buddhist nationalist groups, potentially changing the dynamics of this year's all important general election."
To make any political headway, she needs the support of the monks and a solid claim to be patriotically defending the Buddhist state, BBC said.
There is already debate whether Aung will be able to run for president as a provision in the 2008 constitution bars anyone whose spouse or children is an overseas citizen from leading the country.
The Nobel laureate's late husband and her two sons are British nationals.