03/19/2018, 13.06
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Aung San Suu Kyi visits ASEAN summit, makes state visit to Australia amid controversy

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been criticised for her alleged silence over the growing humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state. The emergency was at the centre of talks among ASEAN members at the three-day summit (16-18 March) in Sydney. To resolve it, she is seeking ASEAN’s and Australia’s assistance.

Sydney (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Aung San Suu Kyi's state visit to Australia officially began today.

Myanmar’s democratic leader arrived in Sydney two days ago for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This morning she was welcomed to Parliament House in Canberra.

During her brief visit, there was no press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, nor did Aung San Suu Kyi make any public statement. She did however meet with the prime minister and opposition leader.

In Australia, her visit has sparked controversy and protests. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been criticised for her alleged silence over the worsening humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state, which the United Nations has called "an example of ethnic cleansing" against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

The emergency in Myanmar’s western-most state was at the centre of talks among ASEAN members during the three-day summit (16-18 March).

ASEAN leaders agreed on the need for greater collaboration to address the growing threat of violent extremism and radicalisation.

Contrary to what Aung San Suu Kyi’s critics hoped for, the final statement released by ASEAN at the end of the summit does not condemn the treatment of the Rohingya by Myanmar.

Australian Prime Minister Turnbull yesterday said that Aung San Suu Kyi sought assistance from member countries and Australia to resolve the crisis.

“We discussed the situation in Rakhine state at considerable length today. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the matter comprehensively at some considerable length herself,” Mr Turnbull said, using the Burmese honorific “Daw” (Aunt or Ms) for the Myanmar leader.

“She seeks support from ASEAN and other nations to provide help from a humanitarian and capacity-building point of view,” he added.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told the summit the refugee crisis was no longer solely a domestic issue for Myanmar, as fleeing Rohingya could be the first victims of radicalisation promoted by terrorists.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong agreed that it was a “complex inter-communal situation” which ASEAN leaders would continue to discuss “frankly.”

“It’s an issue which is also in the public attention and it’s one of those where intense public attention sometimes makes it more difficult to solve,” Lee added.

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