Global Leaders Slam Suu Kyi Over Rohingya

Oma Salema, 12, holds her undernourished brother Ayub Khan, 1, at a camp for Rohingya in Sittwe, Myanmar.
Oma Salema, 12, holds her undernourished brother Ayub Khan, 1, at a camp for Rohingya in Sittwe, Myanmar.

More than a dozen Nobel laureates have criticized Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi for failing to uphold the human rights of Rohingya Muslims in the country’s Rakhine State, calling for immediate action to avoid “ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”.

In an open letter to the United Nations Security Council late Thursday, 23 global icons, including 13 laureates and 10 global leaders, expressed their disappointment at what they see as State Counselor Suu Kyi’s failure to ensure Rohingya rights, Aljazeera reported.

“Despite repeated appeals to Aung San Suu Kyi, we are frustrated that she has not taken any initiative to ensure full and equal citizenship rights of the Rohingya,” the letter with signatories, including Desmond Tutu, said.

“Ms. Suu Kyi is the leader and is the one with the primary responsibility to lead, and lead with courage, humanity and compassion,” it said.

In recent weeks, more than 27,000 people belonging to the persecuted Muslim minority—a group loathed by many of Myanmar’s Buddhist majority—have fled a Burmese military operation in Rakhine launched in response to the attack of border posts by armed groups.

At least 86 people have been killed in the crackdown launched after attacks on police posts near the border with Bangladesh on October 9.

Rohingya survivors say they suffered rape, murder and arson at the hands of soldiers, which accounts have raised global alarm and galvanized protests around Southeast Asia.

The violence had the hallmarks of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide as well as ethnic cleansing in Sudan’s western Darfur region, Bosnia and Kosovo, said the letter.

The group asked the 15-member Security Council to add the “crisis” to its agenda “as a matter of urgency, and to call upon the secretary-general to visit Myanmar in the coming weeks”-either current UN chief Ban Ki-moon or his successor Antonio Guterres, who will take over the post next month.

The UN and other rights groups have repeatedly called on Myanmar to grant them full rights.

Bangladesh’s government has been under pressure to open its border to the fleeing refugees, but it has reinforced its border posts and deployed coastguard ships to prevent fresh arrivals.


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