Myanmar’s Muslims ‘barred from Suu Kyi meet’ in Japan
Democracy hero Aung San Suu Kyi is visiting Japan for 6 days from Saturday. However, members of Myanmar’s Muslim minority Rohingya community said on Thursday that they have been barred from the gathering to welcome Suu Kyi.
During her six-day trip, she is expected to have meetings with some of the approximately 10,000 Burmese who live in Japan, as well as with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
But the leader of some 200 Rohingya Muslims who live in Japan, Zaw Min Htut, 42, said his people had been told they were not wanted at events to welcome Suu Kyi.
“Because some Buddhist minorities are against our participation, even though I’ve been in Japan for decades and have helped other Myanmar nationals here, I was told by compatriot event organisers I won’t be able to see Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” he told AFP, using a term of respect.
These tensions within the expatriate Myanmar community hints at the burgeoning problems between Muslims and Buddhists at home. In a wave of communal violence in March, at least 43 people were killed as mosques and Muslim homes were destroyed in what witnesses say appeared to have been well organised.
The recent disorder was the worst since an eruption of violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine last year that left scores dead and tens of thousands — mainly Muslims — displaced.
The Rohingya have been described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
Activists have expressed disappointment that Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate who was locked up for 15 years by the former junta, has remained largely silent about several episodes of communal bloodshed.
“I would really like to meet her in person, but I don’t want there to be any quarrels,” Zaw Min Htut said.
An official from Japan’s foreign ministry said decisions on participation at the event were taken by organisers and were nothing to do with the ministry.
Zaw Min Htut said he had met officials Wednesday and handed over a letter to Kishida, asking the minister to convey his wish that Suu Kyi play a leading role in ending inter-communal violence.
“I want her to become a mediator in ethnic conflicts, because without settlement of the issue, Myanmar will not become a truly peaceful nation, even if it becomes a democracy,” he told AFP.