Aung San Suu Kyi Visits Rakhine, the Rohingya Region Torn by Conflict
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited the conflict-torn area of northern Rakhine state for the first time Thursday, as her government said a repatriation plan for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who’ve fled violence there is underway.
Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in the state capital Sittwe and headed to restive northern Rakhine where many Rohingya villages were located. During a 2015 election campaign, she visited southern Rakhine, where there hasn’t been much conflict.
“The state counselor just arrived but she is heading to Maungdaw, northern Rakhine, with the state officials,” said Tin Maung Swe, a deputy director of the Rakhine government, using Aung San Suu Kyi’s official title.
Aung San Suu Kyi spokesman Zaw Htay would not release her plans for the trip until later because of security concerns.
More than 600,000 Rohingya from northern Rakhine have fled to Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when Myanmar security forces began what they called a “clearance operations” in response to deadly attacks on police outposts by insurgents. The U.N. has said the response has been disproportionate and amounts to ethnic cleansing.
The campaign has included the burning of Rohingya villages and accusations of widespread rights violations. Fleeing Rohingya have described arson and rape and shootings by Myanmar soldiers and Buddhist mobs.
Aung San Suu Kyi has come under intense criticism from the international community to do more to end the violence and condemn those responsible.