Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Cancels U.N. Trip Amid Outcry Over Rohingya Slaughter

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticized for not speaking out about deadly attacks carried out against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Credit Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

Facing a storm of global criticism over an ethnic slaughter in her home country, the Nobel laureate who is Myanmar’s de facto leader has canceled her planned visit to the United Nations General Assembly.

An announcement of the cancellation on Wednesday from the office of the leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, came less than a week before the annual gathering in New York of leaders from the 193-member General Assembly, the world’s largest forum for international diplomacy.

Her decision to abandon the visit came amid an uproar over deadly attacks by the Myanmar military on the Buddhist-majority country’s population of Rohingya Muslims.

Hundreds have been killed, including children. At least 400,000 have fled for their lives into neighboring Bangladesh, according to news reports from the region.

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh last month after crossing the border from western Myanmar. Those who have fled the military crackdown there described seeing civilians shot from helicopters and homes burned to the ground. Credit Adam Dean for The New York Times

A chorus of international leaders and rights groups, including the office of the top United Nations human rights official, have denounced the attacks as ethnic cleansing — some have called it genocide — and castigated Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi over what they describe as her indifference.

There had been widespread expectation that she would speak about the Rohingya killings at the General Assembly. But a spokesman for her office, Zaw Htay, told reporters in Myanmar on Wednesday that she had canceled her trip because of the crisis.

“She is concentrating on establishing stability,” the spokesman said in remarks quoted by news agencies.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, a 72-year-old widow, endured many years of house arrest for her defiance of Myanmar’s generals and had long been considered a heroine of modern times. She resumed her national political prominence after being released in 2010. The country’s majority party introduced a bill in Parliament in 2016 and created a new post as “state counselor,” which some analysts have compared to prime minister.

The anger and despondency over her failure to stop the Rohingya persecution has infected her fellow Nobel laureates.

In an open letter to Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi published last week, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said, “My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep.”