Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi to Give National Address on Rakhine Crisis
By VOA News September 18, 2017
Myanmar's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to give a highly anticipated national speech Tuesday addressing her country's crisis in Rakhine state, where ongoing violence has led about 400,000 ethnic Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh in recent weeks.
Rohingya militants attacked Burmese security forces in late August. Since then, analysts and rights workers say the Burmese military has carried out a brutal crackdown that has burned entire villages and killed fleeing women and children.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has come under strong international criticism for not speaking out more forcefully on the situation. She canceled her appearance at the United Nations General Assembly this week in part to address the ongoing crisis at home.
On the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson held a private meeting Monday with a small group of concerned countries to address the issue. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley attended, as well as Burma's national security adviser and deputy foreign minister. Ministers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Australia, Canada, Sweden and Denmark also participated.
They called for full and unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies, including the U.N., and called for an end to the violence.
"While Burma has undoubtedly made encouraging progress towards democracy in the last few years, the situation in Rakhine, the terrible human-rights abuses and violence are a stain on the country's reputation," Boris Johnson said.
"As I have repeatedly said, no one wants to see a return to military rule, so it is vital that Aung San Suu Kyi and the civilian government make clear these abuses must stop," he added. The British Foreign Secretary said he was encouraged by the discussion and participation of the senior Burmese officials.
"Today's high-level meeting is a first step, but it can't be the last," said Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch. "This discussion should lead to strong U.N. action to compel Myanmar security services to end their ethnic cleansing campaign."
Charbonneau urged the General Assembly to draft a resolution condemning the abuses and called on the Security Council to impose targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on the commanders leading the military crackdown.
Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to speak both in English and Burmese during her speech Tuesday. Her remarks will be streamed live on www.voanews.com beginning shortly after 0300 UTC Tuesday (after 11 p.m. Monday at the United Nations).
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