Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi to miss United Nations trip amid Rohingya crisis

The Rohingya violence has incubated a humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border and piled intense global pressure on Aung San Suu Kyi to condemn the army campaign, which the UN has described as having all the hallmarks of "ethnic cleansing".

By: AFP | Yangon | Published: September 13, 2017 5:02 pm
aung san suu kyi news, united nations news, world news, indian express news Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi. (Source: Reuters)

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi will not attend the United Nations General Assembly this week, her spokesman said on Wednesday, as the Nobel laureate faces a barrage of criticism over her failure to speak up for Rohingya Muslims fleeing Rakhine state in huge numbers. A crackdown by Myanmar’s army, launched in response to Rohingya militant attacks on August 25, has sent some 379,000 Rohingya refugees scrambling across the border to Bangladesh in less than three weeks.

The violence has incubated a humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border and piled intense global pressure on Suu Kyi to condemn the army campaign, which the UN has described as having all the hallmarks of “ethnic cleansing”.

Bangladesh is struggling to provide relief for exhausted and hungry refugees — some 60 percent of whom are children –while nearly 30,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus have been displaced inside Myanmar.

Nine thousand more refugees poured into Bangladesh on Wednesday, as authorities clambered to build a new camp for tens of thousands of arrivals who have no shelter.

Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s first civilian leader in decades, has no control over the powerful military, which ran the country for 50 years before allowing free elections in 2015.

There is also scant sympathy among Myanmar’s Buddhist majority for the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim group branded “Bengalis” — shorthand for illegal immigrants.

But outside of her country Suu Kyi’s reputation as a defender of the oppressed is in ruins over the Rohingya crisis.

Rights groups have pilloried the former democracy activist for failing to speak out against the army campaign, which has left hundreds dead.

Rohingya refugees have told chilling accounts of soldiers firing on civilians and razing entire villages in northern Rakhine state with the help of Buddhist mobs.

The army denies the allegations, while Suu Kyi has also played down claims of atrocities, instead blaming “a huge iceberg of misinformation” for complicating the conflict.

Her decision to skip the UN assembly comes hours before the Security Council is set to discuss the refugee crisis behind closed doors, with China expected to shoot down any efforts to censure its strategically pivotal Southeast Asian ally.

“The state counsellor won’t attend the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly,” government spokesman Zaw Htay told AFP, using Suu Kyi’s formal title.

He did not explain the decision but said Vice President Henry Van Thio would attend the summit, which runs through next week.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner garlanded for her dignified and defiant democracy activism under Myanmar’s former junta, was once the darling of the international community.

She made her debut before the UN assembly last September, winning warm applause for a speech delivered months after she became Myanmar’s first civilian leader following a decades-long democracy struggle under the former junta.

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  1. N
    Nethra Kanagasabai
    Sep 16, 2017 at 4:11 pm
    Why Mr Srinivas are you not commenting on OIC ? Are they not religiously, morally , more responsible to these refugees ? Why are you attacking Modi ? That to so biasedly . ? The rich muslim nations are not offering any help to the refugees but want to comment on Kashmir ! Shame on them yaar . Mr Srinivas you are pointing your finger on the wrong person/people. Something wrong somewhere.
    1. F
      Sep 13, 2017 at 8:34 pm
      act stupid live longer
      1. I
        Sep 13, 2017 at 7:12 pm
        When ROHINGYA MUSLIMS are NOT being given ASYLUM or ASSISTANCE by even RICH ISLAMIC COUNTRIES like SAUDI, UAE, KUWAIT, QATAR, IRAN, TURKEY etc and by ISLAMIC COUNTRIES CARVED OUT for MUSLIMS like PA-KI-STAN, Bangladesh, Afghanistan etc there is NO reason why India should offer REFUGE to ROHINGYA MUSLIMS.
        1. Srinivas Channappa
          Sep 13, 2017 at 6:19 pm
          Modi has still 'mass murdering' tendency even after 2002, by demonetization, he enjoyed close to 200 people getting crushed in cash queues...... By Nepal blockade, he tried to kill all patients in Nepal by blocking medicnes, however after UN's criticism blockade was lifted.... and now Modi Myanmar wants to witness Rohingya's deaths. UNSC/UN/USA/EU should slap sanction on India. Indian leadership is all about chest thumping with no heart for humanity
          1. Srinivas Channappa
            Sep 13, 2017 at 6:15 pm
            How can India dream of becoming a super power and a regional leader ? It cannot accept humans in turmoil as refugees. Our neighbor Pakistan has 1.6 million refugees, India has hardly 0.2 million. Modi govt for the first time in history of world is accepting refugees based on religion. UNO/UNSC/US/EU should slap sanctions on dirty minded India. India's leadership is embarrassing India's image all over the world.
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