Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to skip UN General Assembly session

Sergio Conner
September 13, 2018

Under worldwide pressure over alleged genocide by Myanmar's army, the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi acknowledged Thursday that her country's treatment of its Rohingya Muslims "could have been handled better".

Over 700,000 of the beleaguered minority have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since August previous year after a Rohingya militant attack in Rakhine state triggered a scorched earth military campaign there.

"I wonder whether very many people have actually read the summary of the judgement which had nothing to do with freedom of expression at all, it had to do with an Official Secrets Act", Suu Kyi said in response to a question from the forum moderator.

Rohingya refugee girls cross a makeshift bamboo bridge at Kutupalong refugee camp, where they have been living amid uncertainty over their future after they fled Myanmar to escape violence a year ago, in Bangladesh.

But she added that the two journalists "have every right to appeal the judgement and point out why the judgement is wrong if they consider it wrong".

The court maintained that the two journalists had meant to damage Myanmar with documents that police witnesses admitting to planting on the pair just moments before their arrest.

Mr Pence and Mrs May condemned the verdicts and called for the journalists' release after they were imprisoned for seven years each for allegedly possessing state secrets.

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Myanmar's government also confirmed Thursday that Suu Kyi would not attend the United Nations General Assembly session later this month in NY.

Even so, Suu Kyi did not say exactly what could have been done differently in Rakhine and handling the Rohingya because any concrete criticism would likely put her on a collision course with the country's powerful military, the chief perpetrator of the atrocities the world is reacting to.

But Aung San Suu Kyi declined to criticize what she delicately referred to as "the military aspect" in her talk at the World Economic Forum on Asean. "But we believe that for the sake of long-term stability and security we have to be fair to all sides ..."

A United Nations fact-finding panel has called for Myanmar army chief Min Aung Hlaing and several other top generals to be prosecuted for genocide. "We can not choose and pick who should be protected by the rule of law".

Bangladesh's foreign minister called on developed countries to take in more Rohingya on a humanitarian basis. Myanmar has denied accusations of atrocities made by refugees, saying it conducted a legitimate counterinsurgency operation against militants. In other comments the formerly much-lauded Nobel Peace Laureate said her priority for the run-up to the next election, in 2020, was to secure peace and prosperity for Myanmar.

However, Washington, which has been competing for influence in Myanmar with its strategic rival China, has so far spared the Myanmar's top generals from sanctions.

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