Suu Kyi feeling the heat
Myanmar leader meets UN chief as global outcry over Rohingya mounts
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.