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As Rohingya Flee Violence, Myanmar's Leader Cancels UN Meeting

2017-09-14

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[00:00.00]
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar’s government, has cancelled her planned visit to the United Nations General Assembly.
  • [00:10.17]
  • Several nations have criticized the Myanmar military recently for deadly attacks against minority Rohingya Muslims in the country, also known as Burma.
  • [00:23.68]
  • The UN General Assembly is meeting next week in New York City.
  • [00:30.36]
  • The UN says almost 380,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh.
  • [00:38.24]
  • Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for leading the nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar.
  • [00:50.70]
  • She spent more than 20 years under house arrest because of her democracy effort.
  • [00:57.99]
  • But she is facing sharp criticism for her response to the violence against Rohingya in the country.
  • [01:05.82]
  • She has denied reports of genocide and defended the military actions as justified.
  • [01:13.68]
  • The criticism has even come from other Nobel Peace Prize winners.
  • [01:20.54]
  • Retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa wrote an open letter to Aung San Suu Kyi.
  • [01:30.25]
  • Part of it said, “If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep.”
  • [01:42.56]
  • Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay said that Aung San Suu Kyi will miss the General Assembly meeting to deal with security issues in Rakhine state.
  • [01:54.85]
  • He also said there had been reports of the possibility of terror attacks in the country.
  • [02:01.99]
  • Aung San Suu Kyi is the head of Myanmar’s government and its foreign minister.
  • [02:08.99]
  • Myanmar’s president is Htin Kyaw.
  • [02:12.32]
  • On August 25, a group of Rohingya militants attacked about 30 police offices and army positions in Rakhine, killing several people.
  • [02:24.24]
  • The militants said they were trying to protect their ethnic minority from government persecution.
  • [02:32.99]
  • About 400 people have been killed in battles between the military and the militants.
  • [02:39.97]
  • The Trump administration has called for protection of civilians.
  • [02:45.41]
  • The Bangladesh government has said that all the refugees will have to return to Myanmar.
  • [02:52.89]
  • It has called for safe areas in Myanmar.
  • [02:56.95]
  • But Zaw Htay said that would not be acceptable to Myanmar’s government.
  • [03:03.45]
  • Philippe Bolopion is deputy director of global advocacy at Human Rights Watch.
  • [03:10.31]
  • He said the humanitarian crisis is worsened by Myanmar’s refusal to permit aid agencies to come in and provide help.
  • [03:21.59]
  • But Zaw Htay said the Myanmar government is working to stop the violence and deal with threats of future terrorist attacks.
  • [03:31.53]
  • Jean Leiby of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says Rohingya camps in Bangladesh are crowded with children.
  • [03:42.17]
  • He said about 200,000 children may be at risk of disease and are in urgent need of support.
  • [03:51.30]
  • The UN refugee agency sent a flight to Bangladesh carrying emergency aid.
  • [03:58.75]
  • A second flight, donated by the United Arab Emirates, has also landed in Bangladesh, carrying about 2,000 family tents.
  • [04:09.51]
  • The Rohingya are one of Myanmar's many ethnic minorities in the Buddhist-majority nation.
  • [04:18.01]
  • They have been denied citizenship, though most can show that their families have been in the country for many years.
  • [04:28.07]
  • I’m Jonathan Evans.
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