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Myanmar leader’s Australia visit draws protests

Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi listens to an address to the New Colombo Plan Reception at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-Australia special summit being held in Sydney on March 17, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Activists have staged a protest in the Australian city of Sydney against a visit by Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in her country.

More than 100 angry protesters gathered in Hyde Park in Sydney on Saturday, demonstrating against Suu Kyi’s participation at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) special meeting.

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday that he would raise the issue of the Rohingya crisis with Suu Kyi during her three-day visit.

During the Saturday protest, a spokesperson for Australian Rohingya community urged the ASEAN leaders to help “find a durable and humane solution” to the Rohingya crisis.

“We hope that the ASEAN leaders, including Australian government will take the right decision to defend human rights and to work continuously with Myanmar leaders and with Rohingya leaders to include them in the discussion to find a durable and humane solution. Not just what suits them,” Sujauddin Karimuddin said.

Backed by Myanmar’s government and Buddhist mobs, the Myanmarese military launched a deadly crackdown against minority Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine in late 2016. It intensified that campaign in August last year.

Only in its first month, the clampdown, called by the UN and prominent rights group an “ethnic cleansing campaign,” killed some 6,700 Rohingya Muslims, including more than 700 children, according to Doctors Without Borders.

About 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have also fled Rakhine to neighboring Bangladesh since August last year.

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