SYDNEY (AFP) – Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday pulled out of a public speech and question-and-answer session in Sydney because she was “not feeling well”, the event’s organisers said.
Ms Suu Kyi has been under fire internationally for her public silence about a military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that has seen nearly 700,000 of the Muslim Rohingya minority flee to Bangladesh.
Ms Suu Kyi, who attended an special Asean-Australia summit from Friday to Sunday, was in Canberra for talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday. She had been due to make a keynote speech at the Lowy Institute think-tank in Sydney today.
The speech and subsequent question-and-answer session would have been the only public comments the Nobel Prize winner would have made during her Australia trip.
The Rohingya humanitarian crisis was one of the key topics at the special summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and Australia, with other leaders quizzing her about the issue during a gathering Sunday, Mr Turnbull said.
Malaysia’s leader Najib Razak had warned Saturday that the issue could threaten regional security since those victimised could fall prey to extremist groups like the Islamic State.
The exodus has sparked rare tension within the regional body, and Muslim-majority Malaysia has called for an independent Asean-led investigation into allegations of army abuse.
Ms Suu Kyi was the subject of public protests against human rights abuses during the summit, with demonstrators criticising her.