Myanmar’s de facto leader and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi will not attend the upcoming UN General Assembly session in New York as criticism of her handling of the Rohingya crisis grows.
A spokesman for the Presidential office said on Wednesday she had called off her trip for two reasons. “One is the current situation in Rakhine State. We have terrorist attacks and also there are many works on public safety and humanitarian works,” spokesman Zaw Htay said in a statement.
“And the second reason is we have received reports that there are possibilities of terrorist attacks in our country.”
Suu Kyi had been expected to participate in discussions at the General Assembly session, which will run from September 19 to 25, BBC reported.
More than 370,000 minority Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence since August 25, according to the United Nations, an average of almost 20,000 a day.
A clearance operation by Myanmar’s military targeting the Rohingya intensified after 12 security officers were killed by militants in coordinated attacks on border posts.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Monday said that the actions of Myanmar’s armed forces had been a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, which was denounced by the Myanmar government.
Suu Kyi has been repeatedly criticised over her response to the crisis, particularly given her previous work as a defender of human rights which won her the Nobel Peace Prize.
Former US Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Tom Malinowski said he was “very sad” about Suu Kyi’s response to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, CNN reported.
Fellow Nobel laureates, including the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai, had called on Suu Kyi to stop the violence.
Myanmar’s envoy to the UN had blamed Rohingya insurgents for the violence in Rakhine state and said that his country would never tolerate such atrocities.
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called on Myanmar to take the Rohingya refugees back. “My personal message is very clear that they should consider this situation with humanity because these people, the children, the women, they are suffering,” she told the BBC on Tuesday.
“These people belong to Myanmar, for 100 years or more they have stayed there. How can they deny they are not their citizens?” she asked.