Suu Kyi feel­ing the heat

Myan­mar leader meets UN chief as global out­cry over Ro­hingya mounts

The Star Malaysia - - World -

Ris­ing global pres­sure builds as Myan­mar leader meets UN chief over Ro­hingya cri­sis.

M ANILA: Myan­mar leader Aung San Suu Kyi faced ris­ing global pres­sure to solve the cri­sis for her na­tion’s dis­placed Ro­hingya Mus­lim mi­nor­ity, meet­ing with the United Na­tions chief and the United States’ top diplo­mat in the Philip­pines.

UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res told the No­bel lau­re­ate yes­ter­day that hun­dreds of thou­sands of dis­placed Mus­lims who had fled to Bangladesh should be al­lowed to return to their homes in Myan­mar.

“The sec­re­tary-gen­eral high­lighted that strength­ened ef­forts to en­sure hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­cess, safe, dignified, vol­un­tary and sus­tained re­turns, as well as true rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween com­mu­ni­ties, would be es­sen­tial,”a UN state­ment said, sum­maris­ing com­ments to Suu Kyi.

Guter­res’ com­ments came hours be­fore Suu Kyi sat down with US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son on the side­lines of the East Asia Sum­mit in Manila yes­ter­day.

Washington has been cau­tious in its state­ments on the sit­u­a­tion in Rakhine and has avoided out­right crit­i­cism of Suu Kyi.

Sup­port­ers say she must nav­i­gate a path be­tween ou­trage abroad and pop­u­lar feel­ing in a ma­jor­ity Bud­dhist coun­try where most peo­ple be­lieve the Ro­hingya are in­ter­lop­ers.

At a photo op­por­tu­nity at the top of her meet­ing with Tiller­son, Suu Kyi ig­nored a jour­nal­ist who asked if the Ro­hingya were cit­i­zens of Myan­mar.

At a later ap­pear­ance af­ter the meet­ing, Tiller­son – who is headed to Myan­mar to­day – was asked by re­porters if he “had a mes­sage for Burmese lead­ers”.

He ap­par­ently ig­nored the ques­tion, re­ply­ing only: “Thank you.”

Over 600,000 Ro­hingya have flooded into Bangladesh since late Au­gust and now live in the squalor of the world’s big­gest refugee camp.

The cri­sis erupted af­ter Ro­hingya rebels at­tacked po­lice posts in Myan­mar’s Rakhine state, trig­ger­ing a mil­i­tary crack­down that saw hun­dreds of vil­lages re­duced to ashes and sparked a mas­sive ex­o­dus.

In a sum­mit on Mon­day night with lead­ers of the 10-mem­ber As­so­ci­a­tion of South-East Asian Na­tions, of which Myan­mar is a mem­ber, Guter­res also voiced con­cern about the Ro­hingya.

He said the dis­place­ment of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ro­hingya was a “wor­ry­ing es­ca­la­tion in a pro­tracted tragedy”, ac­cord­ing to the UN state­ment.

He de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as a po­ten­tial source of in­sta­bil­ity and rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion.

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