Politics, World, Asia - Pacific

Amid Rohingya uproar, Myanmar leader to skip UN meeting

Aung San Suu Kyi also faces calls to revoke her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize over Myanmar’s violent crackdown on Rohingya Muslims

Amid Rohingya uproar, Myanmar leader to skip UN meeting Myanmar State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi

By Kyaw Ye Lynn

YANGON, Myanmar

Myanmar’s de facto leader has cancelled plan to attend the upcoming UN General Assembly as her government faces growing international pressure over its crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya minority.

Kyaw Zeya, spokesperson of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s Foreign Ministry, told local media on Tuesday that Vice President Henry Van Thio will instead attend the New York meeting later this month.

“The state counselor has domestic issues that need more attention, and therefore the vice president will lead the Myanmar delegation,” he told Irrawaddy online magazine in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.

In recent days Suu Kyi has faced calls to revoke her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize over her government’s violent crackdown on the Rohingya, which the UN human rights chief called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Since Aug, 25, more than 370,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine to Bangladesh, according to the UN.

The refugees are fleeing a fresh security operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladesh, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown. 

Recommendations of Annan commission

Myanmar’s government also announced on Tuesday the formation of a committee to implement the recommendations of a commission on the situation in Rakhine led by former UN chief Kofi Annan and a separate commission led by Vice President U Myint Swe, who is a former junta leader.

The 15-member committee is chaired by Win Myat Aye, Myanmar’s social welfare, relief and resettlement minister, and co-chaired by Rakhine State Chief Minister Nyi Pu, said a statement.

It added that a technical team will be formed soon with local and international experts to assist the committee’s implementation process.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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