Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

With Crisis Worsening, 370000 Rohingya Muslims Escape to Bangladesh

With Crisis Worsening, 370000 Rohingya Muslims Escape to Bangladesh

Myanmar's national leader Aung San Suu Kyi, facing outrage over ethnic violence that has forced about 370,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh, won't attend the upcoming UN General Assembly session in NY.

Almost 300,000 Rohingya refugees fled to Bangladesh after the Myanmar Army unleashed a "clearance operation" in Rakhine state in response to attacks by Rohingya militants on security posts on August 25.

Mrs Suu Kyi's fellow Nobel laureates Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai have been among the most high-profile worldwide figures to criticise Mrs Suu Kyi's response to the Rohingya crisis.

In a press conference government spokesman Zaw Htay said Suu Kyi will "speak for national reconciliation and peace" in a televised address on September 19.

A government spokesman for Ms Suu Kyi, Zaw Htay, said "the state councillor will not attend" the General Assembly, where she spoke a year ago.

"What is the crime of the women and children or the innocent people?" she said.

According to United Nations estimates, over 1,000 people may have been killed in the crackdown launched by the Myanmar Army in the Rakhine state since August 25 when a fresh wave of violence erupted there.

But anti-Rohingya sentiment is common in Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalism has surged since the end of military rule.

Russian Federation and China, both veto-wielding permanent members, are supportive of Myanmar's government. Myanmar denies the claim, and says it is not targeting civilians, but only militants.

"We will not tolerate injustice", she said, referring to the ethnic violence in neighbouring country that has forced at least 313,000 people to take shelter in Bangladesh.

On Monday night, she condemned Buddhist-majority Burma for "atrocities" she said had reached a level beyond description, telling legislators she had "no words to condemn Burma" and noting that Bangladesh had always been protesting against the persecution of the Rohingya. Next to the significant human cost of the conflict, thousands of homes and whole Rohingya villages have been burned down.

On Monday, the UN's top human rights official said the country's treatment of the Muslim minority appeared to be a "textbook example" of ethnic cleansing.

Violence broke out on August 25, after Rohingya fighters attacked police posts, prompting a military crackdown.

Myanmar has restricted most aid agency access to the north of Rakhine.

But as I said on Twitter, they go back, they are dead.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina meets Rohingya Muslims at Kutupalong refugee camp, near the border town of Ukhia, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Many of those say that the forces of Myanmar are conducting a campaign to force them from the country.

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