Myanmar's Suu Kyi skipping UN General Assembly amid Rohingya outrage
Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is facing widespread international criticism over the Rohingya crisis, will be missing next week's UN General Assembly (UNGA) session. An estimated 370,000 Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee Myanmar's Rakhine state to Bangladesh over the past month due to alleged state-sponsored violence. The UN accused the Myanmar government of ethnic cleansing.
Suu Kyi was expected to take part in discussions at the UNGA session, which would take place in New York from September 19 to 25. A Myanmar government spokesperson told Reuters that "perhaps" Suu Kyi has "more pressing matters to deal with. She's never afraid of facing criticism or confronting problems." Last year, at the UNGA, Suu Kyi defended her government's treatment of the Rohingyas.
Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who lived for over 15 years under house arrest as part of her pro-democracy struggle. Her former supporters in the West have now criticized her for not doing enough to prevent the anti-Rohingya violence. Fellow Nobel laureates such the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai have all urged Suu Kyi to end the violence.
On Tuesday, the UN's Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad Al Hussein said Myanmar's alleged persecution of the Rohingyas amounted to "ethnic cleansing." The Myanmar envoy to the UN has denounced the UN's suggestion and blamed Rohingya insurgents for the violence. He called the allegations unhelpful and wrong. The UN Security Council discussed the crisis in a meeting on Wednesday.
"The terms crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing carry very serious connotations. They can only be used in the most responsible manner and they can only be founded on legal and judicial determinations," Myanmar ambassador told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Meanwhile, Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina has urged Myanmar to take back the Rohingya refugees. "My personal message is very clear that they should consider this situation with humanity because these people, the children, the women, they are suffering," she said. "These people belong to Myanmar, for 100 years or more they have stayed there. How can they deny they are not their citizens?"