SYDNEY – Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in Canberra on Monday to be met by a military honor guard and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has said he will raise human rights issues during her visit.
Suu Kyi has been in Australia since Friday, attending a special summit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders in Sydney, where her presence drew street protests and a lawsuit accusing her of crimes against humanity.
Australia’s Attorney General has said he would not allow the lawsuit, lodged by activist lawyers in Melbourne on behalf of Australia’s Rohingya community, to proceed because Suu Kyi had diplomatic immunity.
Since coming to power in 2016, Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle for democracy in Myanmar, has faced growing criticism for failing to condemn or stop military attacks on her country’s minority Rohingya Muslims.
U.N. officials say nearly 700,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar to Bangladesh after militant attacks on Aug. 25 last year sparked a crackdown, led by security forces, in Rakhine state that the United Nations and United States have said constitutes ethnic cleansing.
The U.N. independent investigator on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said in Geneva this month she saw growing evidence to suspect genocide had been committed.
Myanmar denies the charges and has asked for “clear evidence” of abuses by security forces.
Neither Suu Kyi nor Turnbull made public remarks before their meeting, but the Australian leader said on Sunday that Suu Kyi spoke “at considerable length” during the ASEAN meeting about Rakhine State, appealing to her Southeast Asian neighbors for humanitarian help.
“We discussed the situation in Rakhine state at considerable length today,” Turnbull told reporters at the end of the summit, much of it held behind closed doors.
“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the matter comprehensively at some considerable length herself. … She seeks support from ASEAN and other nations to provide help from a humanitarian and capacity-building point of view,” he said, using a Burmese honorific.
Turnbull did not tell reporters whether Suu Kyi gave details of what support she was seeking or whether she spoke specifically about violence against the Rohingya, however ASEAN’s Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance has been providing some aid since October.
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