Myanmar leader Suu Kyi says terrorism in Rakhine state a threat to region

Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attends a signing ceremony in Hanoi, Vietnam, April 2018. (Reuters pic)

SINGAPORE: Terrorism remains a threat in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and could have “grave consequences” for the region, the Southeast Asian country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said on Tuesday.

“The danger of terrorist activities, which was the initial cause of events leading to the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine remains real and present today,” she said in a lecture in Singapore.

“Unless this security challenge is addressed the risk of inter-communal violence will remain. It is a threat that could have grave consequences, not just for Myanmar but also for other countries in our region and beyond.”

The Nobel peace prize laureate, once seen as the face of Myanmar’s struggle for democracy, has been criticised for her failure to speak out against a military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine that the United Nations has called “ethnic cleansing”.

Over the last year, more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the Buddhist-majority country to neighbouring Bangladesh following a military response to attacks on security posts by Rohingya insurgents.

Myanmar has rejected accusations of ethnic cleansing and dismissed most accounts of atrocities, blaming Rohingya “terrorists”.