Suu Kyi faces high stakes

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

As Rakhine state burns and Ro­hingya flee, Aung San Suu Kyi is pre­par­ing to ad­dress Myanmar on the cri­sis for the first time – a high wire act seek­ing to soothe global out­rage without bait­ing an army that is again show­ing its teeth.

Suu Kyi took of­fice last year as Myanmar’s first civil­ian leader af­ter 50 years of junta rule.

She has since fo­cused her en­ergy on the del­i­cate po­lit­i­cal dance be­tween her civil­ian gov­ern­ment and the gen­er­als who still hold many of the levers of power.

On Tues­day the No­bel lau­re­ate will give the biggest speech of her time in of­fice.

The na­tion­ally-tele­vised turn will break a near si­lence since the ul­cer­ous eth­nic and re­li­gious ha­treds in west­ern Rakhine state erupted into killings on Au­gust 25, send­ing 400,000 Mus­lim mi­nor­ity Ro­hingya flee­ing into Bangladesh.

Some 30,000 eth­nic Rakhine Bud­dhists and Hin­dus have also been in­ter­nally dis­placed.

In an in­ter­view with the BBC, UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res said the stakes were high for Tues­day’s speech, call­ing it a “last chance” to stop the un­fold­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian calamity.

“If she does not re­v­erse the sit­u­a­tion now, then I think the tragedy will be ab­so­lutely hor­ri­ble, and un­for­tu­nately then I don’t see how this can be re­versed in the fu­ture,” he said.

The lat­est vi­o­lence was sparked by Ro­hingya mil­i­tants’ raids on 30 po­lice posts in Rakhine state.

The UN calls the army fight-back a “text­book ex­am­ple of eth­nic cleans­ing” with vil­lages set ablaze to drive Ro­hingya civil­ians out.

Many abroad are puz­zled as to how rights can be fla­grantly de­nied to a spe­cific group by a peo­ple who once nobly de­manded their own in the face of a junta.

Suu Kyi’s tele­vised ad­dress – likely at least in part to be in English – comes ahead of a meet­ing at the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly in which Myanmar is ex­pected to be ham­mered over the cri­sis.

Myanmar’s army chief has urged the coun­try to unite over the “is­sue” of the Ro­hingya.

The mil­i­tary says its “clear­ance op­er­a­tions” in Rakhine are aimed at flush­ing out Ro­hingya mil­i­tants who at­tacked po­lice posts on Au­gust 25, as Gen­eral Min Aung Hlaing trum­peted that view in com­ments posted on his of­fi­cial Face­book page.

On Sun­day Myanmar’s gov­ern­ment hinted that it may not take back Ro­hingya who fled across the bor­der, ac­cus­ing those refugees of hav­ing links to the mil­i­tants.

“Those who fled the vil­lages made their way to the other coun­try for fear of be­ing ar­rested as they got in­volved in the vi­o­lent at­tacks. Le­gal pro­tec­tion will be given to the vil­lages whose res­i­dents did not flee,” the gov­ern­ment’s In­for­ma­tion Com­mit­tee said.

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