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Cate Blanchett questions Suu Kyi's stance on Rohingya crisis, calls for aid after visiting refugee camp

  • Published at 04:12 pm March 22nd, 2018
  • Last updated at 04:58 pm March 22nd, 2018
Cate Blanchett questions Suu Kyi's stance on Rohingya crisis, calls for aid after visiting refugee camp

Australian actor Cate Blanchett says it is "bewildering" Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi has not spoken out about the atrocities being committed against Rohingyas in her country. The two-time Oscar winner made the comment in an interview with ABC's The World, her only Australian television appearance following a visit to Bangladesh last week in her capacity as a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador.

Blanchett warned of a “race against time” to protect Rohingya refugees from the worst impacts of the upcoming monsoon season in Bangladesh. Blanchett was visiting Cox’s Bazar where over 700,000 children, women and men from Myanmar have sought safety since last August.

"It is bewildering isn't it that someone [Suu Kyi] who has been such a fighter for even a fragile democracy and who has been hailed as someone who upholds human rights, does not seem to be speaking out more clearly about the atrocities that are so very clearly happening under her watch," Blanchett told The World.


Blanchett visited the region to raise awareness of the imminent threat the struggling Rohingya refugee population is facing ahead of the upcoming monsoon season. The actor warned it could put 100,000 refugees living in the settlements at risk, and that they are in dire need of additional aid.

"It's a domino effect, one rain and those houses are going to collapse, so organisations like UNHCR really do need the financial support."

The Rohingya are not recognised as citizens by Myanmar and have lived under an apartheid system in the western Rakhine state for decades.

Australia's aid to Myanmar questioned

Blanchett also suggested the Australian government rethink the millions of dollars of aid it currently provides to Myanmar.

"There are other countries, Canada, the EU and the US that have stopped such aid," Blanchett said.

Those fleeing Myanmar have told of horrific violence, including brutal murder and rape.

Blanchett recounted a conversation she had with a refugee, 18, who fled Rahkine after her entire village was torched.

"Her three-year-old brother was thrown in to that fire and her older brother was dismembered and shot in front of her and she had to keep running," she said.

"They call it torture but when they call it torture they mean rape and they ran, they fled towards the border of Bangladesh."

Calling for the international community to show solidarity and share the responsibility of this crisis with the government and people of Bangladesh, Blanchett said: “The people of Bangladesh and host communities have been the first to respond to this crisis, supported by agencies like UNHCR and its partners. But I cannot stress how much more help is needed for these vulnerable stateless refugees, the majority of whom are women and children.”