Home World Myanmar’s Suu Kyi makes first visit to crisis-hit northern Rakhine-AFP
Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrived on her first visit to conflict-battered northern Rakhine State on Thursday, an official said, an unannounced trip to an area that has seen most of its Rohingya Muslim population forced out by an army campaign.
Suu Kyi, a nobel laureate who leads Myanmar’s pro-democracy party, has been hammered by the international community for failing to use her moral power to speak up in defence of the Rohinyga.
Some 600,000 of the stateless minority have fled to Bangladesh since late August carrying accounts of murder, rape and arson at the hands of the Myanmar’s army, after militant raids sparked a ferocious military crackdown.
The UN says that crackdown is tantamount to ethnic cleansing, while pressure has mounted on Myanmar to provide security for the Rohingya and allow people to return home.
“The State Counsellor (Suu Kyi’s official title) is now in Sittwe and will go to Maungdaw and Buthiduang too. It will be a day trip,” government spokesman Zaw Htay told AFP, mentioning two of the epicentres of the violence but without elaborating on her schedule.
It is her first trip in office to northern Rakhine, which has hosted the worst of the communal violence that has cut through the western state since 2012, severely damaging Myanmar’s global reputation.
It was not clear if Suu Kyi would visit some of the hundreds of Rohinyga villages torched by the army — allegedly aided by ethnic Rakhine Buddhist locals — or if she would be taken to see remaining clusters of the Muslim group, who are living in fear and hunger surrounded by hostile neighbours.
Thousands of others are believed to still be camped on a beach near Maungdaw awaiting boats to Bangladesh in increasingly parlous conditions.
The Rohingya are hated in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship and widely dismissed as illegal “Bengali” immigrants.