DHAKA (Reuters) – Three Nobel peace laureates urged Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the military yesterday to end the “genocide” of Rohingya Muslims now or face prosecution.
The United Nations and human rights organisations have collected evidence of widespread abuses by the Myanmar military against the largely stateless Rohingya, including murder, rape and arson, prompting nearly 700,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, and have called the crackdown ethnic cleansing.
“She (Suu Kyi) must stop turning a deaf ear to the persecution of the Rohingya or risk being complicit in the crimes,” Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman told a press conference in Dhaka after visiting refugee camps at Cox’s Bazar on the southern tip of Bangladesh.
“Wake up or face prosecution,” said Karman, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
“If she fails to do so, her choice is clear: resign or be held accountable, along with the army commanders, for the crimes committed,” she added.
Since coming to power in 2016, Suu Kyi – who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her decades-long pro-democracy fight – has failed to condemn abuses against the Rohingya which began on August 25 after insurgents attacked police and military outposts.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar denies the abuse charges and says its security forces are fighting a legitimate campaign against “terrorists” it blames for the attacks on the security forces.
Northern Irish activist Mairead Maguire said she heard accounts of women who had been raped repeatedly and families murdered and stories of children being thrown into fires and drowned in rivers.
“The torture, rape and killing of any one member of our human family must be challenged, as in the case of the Rohingya genocide,” said Maguire, who was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1976.
“This is genocide. We can’t remain silent. Silence is complicity,” she said.
The laureates called for those responsible to be brought before the International Criminal Court.
“With over a million Rohingya displaced, countless dead or missing, and rape and sexual violence being used as a weapon of war, it is well past the time for the international community to act,” said Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, who in 2003 became the first Muslim woman to win the peace prize.
Replying to a question, Karman said the three planned to visit Myanmar and they had sent several messages to their friend Suu Kyi but she had not replied.
“We need to see what is happening there.”