Suu Kyi threw away golden chance to address crisis

I believe Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi missed a golden opportunity to address the worst global humanitarian crisis in recent times. What a disappointment (Aung San Suu Kyi 'not dealing with core issue' in first public remarks on Rohingya crisis; Sept 19).

The United Nations has branded the actions of the Myanmar military and security forces as "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

According to UN reports, over 421,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled their villages, many of which have been burned down.

Her statement that she does not fear international scrutiny smacks of arrogance for someone who is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

If indeed she does not fear the global scrutiny, why did she cancel her planned appearance this week at the UN General Assembly in New York?

Her refusal to criticise the Myanmar military and security forces is deeply troubling.

If Myanmar has nothing to hide, it should allow UN investigators into the country, including Rakhine state, to examine allegations of mass killings, torture, sexual violence, the use of landmines and the burning of villages.

Most importantly, the government must also urgently allow humanitarian actors full and unfettered access to all areas and people in need in the region.

Aung San Suu Kyi should give international journalists and media more unfettered access to the villages to document the destruction and alleged atrocities by the military and security forces.

Singapore as the incoming chairman of the Asean Summit next year along with the current chairman, the Philippines, should jointly convene an emergency meeting to assist in the worst ever humanitarian crisis as well as influencing Myanmar towards working with the UN, other international agencies and the global community.

Sattar Bawany (Professor)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2017, with the headline 'Suu Kyi threw away golden chance to address crisis'. Print Edition | Subscribe