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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Afeefa Bebi, holding her infant brother, is among throngs of Rohingya Muslims who recently crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar.

Thursday, September 14, 2017 1:00 am

Myanmar leader to skip UN trip

To stay, address Rohingya violence

Associated Press

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh – With Myanmar drawing condemnation for violence that has driven nearly 380,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee the country, the government said Wednesday its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will skip this month's U.N. General Assembly meetings.

Suu Kyi will miss the assembly's ministerial session, which opens Sept. 19 and runs through Sept. 25, in order to address domestic security issues, according to presidential office spokesman Zaw Htay.

The U.N. Security Council condemned the violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State that sparked the mass exodus. Members called for “immediate steps to end the violence” and efforts to de-escalate the situation, ensure protection of civilians and resolve the refugee problem.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said the council's press statement, which followed closed-door consultations, was the first statement the U.N.'s most powerful body has made in nine years on the situation in Myanmar.

While the Security Council was meeting, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters that ethnic cleansing is taking place against the Rohingyas.

He urged Myanmar's government to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law and allow the Rohingyas, who were stripped of citizenship years ago, to return home.

Suu Kyi's appearance at last year's General Assembly was a landmark: her first since her party won elections in 2015 and replaced a military-dominated government. Even then, however, she faced criticism over Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya Muslims, whose name she did not utter.

Members of the ethnic group are commonly referred to as “Bengalis” by many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar who insist they migrated illegally from Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi is not Myanmar's president – her official titles are state counselor and foreign minister — but she effectively serves as leader of the Southeast Asian nation though she does not control the military.