Suu Kyi visits Myanmar region torn by Rohingya conflict


Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited Rakhine state on Thursday - her first after months of violence and the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims from the region.

Her visit to Rakhine state comes as Suu Kyi is under intense global scrutiny for her response to the exodus, which the United Nations has called "ethnic cleansing, " and as her government said it is working on a plan to repatriate those who fled to Bangladesh.

Ms Suu Kyi met a group of Muslim religious leaders, said Chris Lewa, of the Arakan Project monitoring group, citing Rohingya sources.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has faced criticism from the worldwide community, but few actions have been taken by foreign governments or the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the conflict.

Myanmar has been stung by worldwide criticism and accusations of ethnic cleansing, which it rejects, for the way its security forces responded to attacks by Rohingya militants on 30 security posts.

Rohingya refugees walk after crossing the Naf River at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Palang Khali, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 2, 2017.

Ms Suu Kyi had not previously visited Rakhine since assuming power a year ago, after a landslide 2015 election victory. But in recent weeks, she has come under worldwide criticism for her handling of the crisis in Rakhine, with some calling for the revocation of her Nobel.

"Suu Kyi was accompanied on Thursday by about 20 people travelling in two military helicopters, including state officials and military and police officers, according to the Reuters reporter".

Among other things, it re-imposes a ban on jade and rubies from Myanmar, requires a report on which individuals should be subjected to visa bans and targeted sanctions, and instructs the U.S. Treasury Department to support only worldwide financial assistance programs that do not partner with enterprises owned by the Myanmar military.

Ms Suu Kyi, who does not control the military, has lately appeared to take a stronger lead in the crisis, focusing government efforts on rehabilitation and pledging to repatriate refugees.

The Nobel laureate has been criticised around the world for not stopping the military crackdown on Rohingyas amid allegations of ethnic cleansing.

In a statement issued yesterday after a two-day visit to Myanmar, Mr Turk, the UN's assistant high commissioner for refugee protection, said he hoped the UNHCR would be involved in the government's plans for voluntary repatriation.