Yangon: Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi will not attend the United Nations General Assembly this week, her spokesman said on Wednesday, as the Nobel laureate faces a barrage of criticism over her failure to speak up for Rohingya Muslims fleeing Rakhine state in huge numbers.
Ms Suu Kyi will also address the crisis engulfing Rakhine state next week, according to her spokesman Zaw Htay. Mr Zaw said that Ms Suu Kyi will “speak for national reconciliation and peace” in a televised address on September 19.
According to Mr Zaw, Ms Suu Kyi is needed in Myanmar to “manage humanitarian assistance” and “security concerns” caused by the violence, as competing rumours ratchet up anti-Muslim rhetoric across the Buddhist-majority country.
Mr Zaw said that the Nobel laureate, who has been pilloried by rights groups for failing to speak up in the defence of the Rohinyga minority, would skip the United Nations assembly next week to tackle the crisis unfurling at home.
Ms Suu Kyi’s decision to skip the UN assembly comes hours before the Security Council is set to discuss the refugee crisis behind closed doors, with China expected to shoot down any efforts to censure its strategically pivotal Southeast Asian ally.
“The state counsellor won’t attend the meeting of the UN General Assembly,” Mr Zaw Htay said, using Ms Suu Kyi’s formal title. He did not explain the decision but said that vice president Henry Van Thio would attend the summit, which runs through next week.
A crackdown by Myanmar’s Army, launched in response to Rohingya militant attacks on August 25, has sent some 379,000 Rohingya refugees scrambling across the border to Bangladesh in less than three weeks.
The violence has incubated a humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border and piled global pressure on Ms Suu Kyi.