Rohingya crisis: Cornered Suu Kyi to address nation next week

RSTV Bureau
State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi, at Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw, Myanmar

State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi, at Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw, Myanmar

Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is facing flak from the international community for the violence against Rohingya muslims  in Rakhine state, is said to speak out on the crisis in an address to the nation next week.

Myanmar government’s spokesman Zaw Htay said Suu Kyi would “speak for national reconciliation and peace” in a televised address on September 19.

The Nobel laureate has been severely criticised for being silent on the issue.

Scores of Rohingya muslims were killed in violence and lakhs of them have fled to neighbouring countries, especially Bangladesh, to escape the violence.

A crackdown by Myanmar’s army, launched in response to attacks by Rohingya militants on August 25, had pushed the stateless Muslim minority across the border.

Pressure on Suu Kyi continues to mount to condemn the army campaign, which the UN has described as having all the hallmarks of “ethnic cleansing”.

On Wednesday, Suu Kyi’s government announced that she would skip the United Nations General Assembly next week to tackle the crisis unfurling at home.

She was needed in Myanmar to “manage humanitarian assistance” and “security concerns” caused by the violence, said the statement.

Bangladesh is struggling to provide relief for exhausted and hungry refugees — some 60 per cent of whom are children — while nearly 30,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus have also 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.

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

The 1.1-million strong Rohingya have suffered years of discrimination in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship even though many have long-lasting roots in the country.

Bangladesh does not want the group either, though it is providing the refugees with temporary shelter.

Many Rohingyas have died making the perilous journey across the border, with nearly 100 drowning in boat trips across the Naf river that divides the two countri

Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s first civilian leader in decades. The military ran the country for about 50 years until a free election was finally held in 2015.

So far, 12 Nobel laureates signed an open letter urging the Security Council to “intervene immediately by using all available means” to end the tragedy and “crimes against humanity” unfolding in Rakhine.

(With inputs from PTI)