Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi Misses UN General Assembly Debate

The UN Security Council is due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is to miss next week’s UN General Assembly debate as criticism of her handling of the Rohingya crisis grows.

Some 370,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine state for Bangladesh since the outbreak of violence last month. Whole villages have been burned down.

The UN has accused the government of ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar’s military says it is fighting Rohingya militants and denies reports that it is targeting civilians.

The Rohingya, a mostly Muslim minority in Buddhist-majority Rakhine, have long experienced persecution in Myanmar, which says they are illegal immigrants. They have lived in Myanmar, also known as Burma, for generations but are denied citizenship.

The UN Security Council is due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

The organisation’s refugee agency says not enough aid is getting through to the Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh.

On visiting a camp, the UNHCR’s George William Okoth-Obbo said there needed to be a massive increase in help.

Has Aung San Suu Kyi changed her mind?

Ms Suu Kyi had been expected to participate in discussions at the General Assembly session in New York, which runs from 19 to 25 September.

A government spokesman, Aung Shin, told Reuters news agency that “perhaps” Ms Suu Kyi has “more pressing matters to deal with”, adding: “She’s never afraid of facing criticism or confronting problems.”

In her first address to the General Assembly as national leader in September last year, the former opposition icon defended her government’s efforts to resolve the crisis over the treatment of the Rohingya.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who lived under house arrest for 15 years for her pro-democracy activism, is widely seen as the head of government in Myanmar.

Ms Suu Kyi has been criticised by former supporters in the West for failing to do enough to prevent the violence in Rakhine state.

Last week¬†she said¬†that the crisis was being distorted by a “huge iceberg of misinformation”.

Fellow Nobel laureates, including the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai, have called on Ms Suu Kyi to stop the violence.

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