Suu Kyi, dark shadow of Myanmar violence, arrives in the land of Buddha

29 November 2018: Aung San Suu Kyi, the controversial Myanmar state counselor, has arrived in Kathmandu on a three-day official visit. Suu Kyi, whose fall from grace recently saw her Amnesty International award taken away, is also participating in a mega regional summit dubbed the Asia Pacific Summit 2018-Nepal.

Many other dignitaries from across the Asia Pacific region are also beginning to arrive in Kathmandu for the major international event to be held in the Nepalese capital city from November 30 to December 3.

Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali welcomes Aung San Suu Kyi in Kathmandu I Photo: MoFA Nepal.

Key leaders participating in the summit include, besides Suu Kyi, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Philippines Vice President Leni Robredo. According to the Nepal chapter of the Universal Peace Federation, the principal organiser of the summit, as many as 1500 attendees from around 45 nations are participating in the summit.

List of participants include current and former heads of state and government, speakers of parliament, cabinet members, lawmakers and eminent personalities from media and civil society.

Most notable presence, however, is going to be that of the Myanmar state counselor. Suu Kyi, who has been stripped of AI’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for her “shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for”, is visiting the Himalayan nation on the invitation of PM KP Sharma Oli.

Her participation is already inviting criticism from rights activists with some expressing anger through social media posts. Once hailed by the world as the champion of peace, democracy and human rights, Suu Kyi is accused inaction in the face of Myanmar security forces’ unthinkable atrocities on minority Rohingya Muslims. Fallen from the grace she once commanded, Suu Kyi has now become synonymous with hypocrisy and callousness.

In the meantime, security has been beefed up in the historic city. According to sources in Kathmandu, the government has designed a four-layer security arrangement for all summit dignitaries.

The extra security measure could well have been triggered by the fact that Nepal does have hundreds of Burmese refugees. According to a news report from June this year, UN estimates the number to be around five hundred. “Most of them are living in three small camps in Kapan. Some others are believed to be scattered in various parts of Nepal,” Republica reported at the time.

A news report from the Philippines said the Vice President Robredo will also deliver a keynote speech at the opening session of the summit.

The Asia Pacific Summit, it’s been reported, will address topics such as climate change, peace and development, good governance and conflict resolution. Themed “Addressing the critical challenges of our time: interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values”, the five-day event is supported by the Government of Nepal. 

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