Rohingya crisis: Suu Kyi to address nation on Sept 19

International Desk Published: 13 September 2017, 06:26 PM
Rohingya crisis: Suu Kyi to address nation on Sept 19
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Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi will address the crisis engulfing Rakhine state next week, in her first speech since scores were killed in violence that has sent nearly 380,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh and battered her reputation as a defender of the downtrodden.

In a press conference government spokesman Zaw Htay said Suu Kyi will "speak for national reconciliation and peace" in a televised address on September 19.

He said the Nobel laureate, who has been pilloried by rights groups for failing to speak up in the defence of the Rohinyga minority, would skip the United Nations General Assembly next week to tackle the crisis unfurling at home.

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".

She is needed in Myanmar to "manage humanitarian assistance" and "security concerns" caused by the violence, as competing rumours ratchet up anti-Muslim rhetoric across the Buddhist-majority country.

A crackdown by Myanmar's army, launched in response to Rohingya militant attacks on August 25, has pushed hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh.

Dhaka 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 Rohingya refugees poured into Bangladesh on Wednesday, the UN said, as authorities worked 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.

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.

The UN Security Council was scheduled later Wednesday to discuss the refugee crisis in a closed-door meeting, with China expected to shoot down any efforts to censure its strategically pivotal Southeast Asian ally.

Source: Daily Mail Online