State Counselor Will Not Attend UN General Assembly to Focus on Internal Issues

By Htet Naing Zaw 12 September 2017

NAYPYITAW — Myanmar’s State Counselor and de facto leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has decided not to attend the UN General Assembly session in order to focus on internal issues, said foreign affairs ministry spokesperson U Kyaw Zeya.

“Under the current circumstances, the State Counselor has domestic issues that need attention and therefore, Vice-President [Henry Van Thio] will lead Myanmar’s delegation. National Security Advisor U Thaung Tun will accompany him,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The original plan was for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to lead the delegation but that was only tentative, he added.

“The vice president will explain Myanmar’s stance at the session,” said U Kyaw Zeya.

Reporter U Thiha Thway said it was the right decision to focus on internal security, although he thought her absence might heighten international allegations regarding the situation in Rakhine State.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should closely monitor the circumstances that affect national security. Riots could happen. People are in a panic. She should stay in the country,” said U Thiha Thway.

Muslim militants attacked police outposts in Rakhine State on August 25 and Myanmar Army clearance operations followed, with some 370,000 self-identifying Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh. International pressure has been mounting on Myanmar as a result.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, said security operations in Rakhine State are “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

On Monday evening, Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement saying that the government would “provide humanitarian assistance to all the displaced inhabitants without discrimination.”

“A government-led mechanism established in cooperation with the Red Cross Movement has already started its humanitarian assistance activities,” it read.

“We have to take concrete steps to show how we are solving internal issues to the international community. This is important. Rather than trying to solve it verbally, it is more important to take practical steps to solve it,” said political analyst U Maung Maung Soe.

U Maung Maung Soe agreed with the state counselor’s decision to remain in Myanmar as the top decision maker, as President U Htin Kyaw has recently undergone surgery for a colonic polyp.

The Myanmar delegation should not confront majority Muslim countries that are rallying to condemn it and should instead seek support from other countries, he added.

The 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly will convene at the UN headquarters from Sept. 12 to 25, 2017, on the theme, “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.”

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.