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Suu Kyi doesn’t understand horror of Rohingya crisis: UK

Johnson, on a visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar, has been articulating growing concern in London over the refugee crisis that has seen a large number of Rohingya Muslims flee state persecution.

world Updated: Feb 12, 2018 18:29 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Aung San Suu Kyi,Boris Johnson,Rohingya crisis
Handout photo taken on February 11, 2018 by Myanmar's Ministry of Information shows State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi chatting with Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson during their meeting in Naypyidaw. Johnson met Suu Kyi to press for action on the Rohingya crisis, as Myanmar faces mounting pressure to punish troops accused of atrocities against the Muslim minority.(AFP)

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson has sharpened criticism of Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi over the Rohingya issue, doubting if she understood the “full horror” of the crisisthat led theUN todescribe it as“a textbook case of ethnic cleansing”.

Johnson, on a visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar, has been articulating growing concern in London in recent months over the refugee crisis that has seen a large number of Rohingya Muslims flee state persecution from the Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

After meeting Suu Kyi in Yangon, Johnson told BBC: “To be honest, I don’t really think she understands the full horror. I don’t think she has been up in a helicopter to see what we have seen. I believe in her leadership but am sad to see what is happening to Burma now.”

Britain continues to refer to the country by its pre-colonial name of Burma.

However, the official communiqué from the Foreign Office on the meeting was less forthright. It quoted Johnson as expressing to her his “deep concern” about the future of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. The UK is a major donor to help deal with the crisis.

Johnson said: “I underlined the importance of the Burmese authorities carrying out a full and independent investigation into the violence in Rakhine, and to hold to account those responsible for human rights violations.

“I underlined the urgency of creating the conditions in Rakhine that could make it a safe place for the Rohingya refugees to return to, free from fear, and in the knowledge that their basic rights will be respected and upheld.”

To BBC, he added: “I have to say that, talking to politicians in the capital, listening to Daw Suu, I don't think it has come through to her the full extent of the horror that has happened, the sheer devastation.

"I have seen nothing like it in my lifetime. Hundreds of villages torched. It is absolutely devastating and I think that what is needed now is some leadership, working with the UN agencies to get these people back home."

Before travelling to Myanmar, Johnson visited a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and met Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina.

First Published: Feb 12, 2018 16:58 IST