Protesters take aim at Asean leaders in Sydney

Protesters demonstrating against Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the Asean-Australia summit in Sydney yesterday. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was among other leaders targeted.
Protesters demonstrating against Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the Asean-Australia summit in Sydney yesterday. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was among other leaders targeted.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SYDNEY • Provocative images of one-time human rights icon Aung San Suu Kyi with a Hitler moustache and banners demanding Cambodia's Hun Sen step down were held up by protesters in Sydney yesterday in a rally against South-east Asian leaders.

Thousands demonstrated in the city against a raft of grievances on the sidelines of the Asean-Australia Special Summit, where Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has vowed to tackle human rights issues.

They came together to urge the release of political prisoners in Vietnam, an end to strongman Hun Sen's regime in Cambodia, and a halt to the military crackdown on Rohingya in Myanmar.

"We are here to protest issues that are happening in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, the Rohingya - you name it, we are here to send a clear voice to these governments that you do not mistreat human rights," Vietnamese-Australian protester Davy Nguyen said.

Asean leaders - including Mr Hun Sen, Myanmar's de facto leader Suu Kyi and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc - are in Sydney for the talks. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte opted not to attend. All have been accused of oppression.

Among banners was one portraying Ms Suu Kyi with an Adolf Hitler moustache, and calling on her to "Return the Nobel Prize".

The Nobel laureate is accused of failing to do enough to stop the persecution of the Muslim-minority Rohingya community, which has been brutally forced out of Rakhine state by the Myanmar military.

Others urged Mr Hun Sen, who is accused of overseeing widespread human rights violations, to quit. The protest followed a rally by several hundred Cambodian-Australians against him on Friday.

"We are here today in solidarity with the communities from South-east Asia who are facing dictatorship and genocide, of course particularly in the Rohingya community," said Mr Shawfikul Islam from the Australian Burmese Rohingya Organisation.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 18, 2018, with the headline 'Protesters take aim at Asean leaders in Sydney'. Print Edition | Subscribe