Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is set to miss next week's UN General Assembly debate amid the escalating Rohingya crisis over which she has come in for severe criticism. The Nobel laureate's office said on Wednesday, 13 September that the domestic security situation has forced her to cancel the overseas trip.
More than 370,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar since late August to neighbouring Bangladesh in the wake of violence. Much of the blame has been pinned on Myanmar's security forces as they continue to crack down on the Rohingya, who are considered a stateless minority in the Buddhist-majority nation. The UN has accused the government of ethnic cleansing.
"One is the current situation in Rakhine State. We have terrorist attacks and also there are many works on public safety and humanitarian works," presidential office's spokesman Zaw Htay said in a statement. "And the second reason is we have received reports that there are possibilities of terrorist attacks in our country." Vice-president Henry Van Thio may attend the UN gathering instead of Suu Kyi.
Bangladesh has been struggling to cope with the refugee situation and is unable to provide relief to the fleeing Rohingya, many of them women and children.
Though officially Suu Kyi holds the post of state counsellor, she effectively runs the government while President Htin Kyaw remains more of a proxy. The government has denied any role in the persecution of the Rohingyas and insists the security forces target only militants. But rights groups have been heaping scorn on the administration for doing very little to stem the violence.
The crisis over the exodus of Rohingya Muslims is the biggest challenge Suu Kyi is facing since she became the leader in 2016. There have been calls for stripping her of her Nobel peace prize as she is alleged to have mishandled the situation.