Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Drops Off UN Agenda in Geneva Next Week

By Reuters 22 February 2019

GENEVA — Myanmar will be represented by a government minister at a U.N. conference in Geneva next week, and not by the country’s de facto leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, according to the latest agenda for the meeting on Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, an agenda for the Conference on Disarmament seen by Reuters showed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been criticized by the West over the government’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims and other human rights concerns, was scheduled to speak at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

Two officials confirmed she was expected, raising the prospect of a possible meeting with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is due to speak at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday and the disarmament forum on Tuesday.

But an agenda posted on the conference’s website later in the day listed Kyaw Tin, Union minister for international cooperation, as the speaker from Myanmar. U.N. officials said they did not have any information about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi coming to Geneva.

Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay did not respond to calls seeking comment and diplomats at Myanmar’s mission in Geneva were unavailable throughout the day.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a former political prisoner who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, but her reputation has suffered badly in recent years.

Her government’s relations with the United Nations are tense following the Rohingya crisis. About 730,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine State into Bangladesh since a military crackdown in 2017 after Rohingya insurgents attacked security posts.

Myanmar has banned the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, from coming to the country and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration has opposed raising the profile of the U.N. resident coordinator in Myanmar.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has largely shunned travel to the West since the Rohingya crisis broke but she and senior officials in her administration travel regularly within Asia.

A U.N. mandated fact-finding mission said that Myanmar’s military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya with “genocidal intent” and called for generals to be prosecuted. Myanmar rejected the findings.

Last year Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visited Australia, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and Nepal. She travelled to Switzerland in 2012, visiting the Swiss government in Bern and the U.N. and the International Labor Organization in Geneva.