World leaders, NGOs and fellow peace prize winners speak out over Aung San Suu Kyi’s response to the Rohingya crisis

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Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 11 September 2017| 20 Dhul Hijjah 1438

Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize winning Aung San Suu Kyi is facing intense scrutiny over her response to the plight of her nation’s Rohingya population.

Almost 300,000 Rohingya have fled into neighbouring Bangladesh, according to the UN, since renewed violence between state security forces and the minority group began more than two weeks ago.

The disruption started on August 25 after Rohingya fighters attacked police posts in Rakhine, on Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) western coast, triggering a military crackdown.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the nation’s state counsellor and de facto leader, claimed this week that the situation is being twisted by a “huge iceberg of misinformation”.

“We make sure that all the people in our country are entitled to protection of their rights as well as, the right to, not just political but social and humanitarian defence”, she reportedly told Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a phone call on September 5.

The Rohingya, frequently described as “the world’s most persecuted minority”, are a mostly Muslim ethnic group, who have lived in majority Buddhist Myanmar for centuries.

There are currently around 1.1m residents in the Southeast Asian nation, which is home to more than 100 ethnic groups and approximately 55 million people.

A number of high-profile individuals have publicly criticised Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her campaign supporting democracy in Myanmar, in light of the crisis.

However, not all world leaders have been united in condemning Aung San Suu Kyi.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for example, has refused to speak out and has instead offered his support to her.

“We share your concerns about extremist violence in Rakhine state and especially the violence against security forces,” he said during a state visit to Myanmar on September 6.

More than 400,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Aung San Suu Kyi to be stripped of her accolade, accusing her of doing “virtually nothing to stop this crime against humanity in her country”.

“The… [prize is] only to be given to ‘people who have given their utmost to international brotherhood and sisterhood.’ These peaceful values need to be nurtured by the laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize, including Aung San Suu Kyi, until their last days,” the change.org petition reads.
“When a laureate cannot maintain peace, then for the sake of peace itself the prize needs to be returned or confiscated by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.”

Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani Nobel Peace laureate, has condemned Aung San Suu Kyi’s apparent inaction in response to the emerging crisis in Myanmar.

“Every time I see the news, my heart breaks at the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar,” Yousafzai, who famously survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, tweeted on September 3.

Yousafzai, 20, called on the international community to provide sanctuary for those fleeing the violence.

“Other countries, including my own country Pakistan, should follow Bangladesh’s example and give food, shelter and access to education to Rohingya families fleeing violence and terror,” she wrote.

“Over the last several years I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment. I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending South Africa’s policy of apartheid, has also called on Aung San Suu Kyi to end the Rohingya’s suffering.

Denouncing the “unfolding horror”, the 85-year-old implored his “dearly beloved younger sister” to intervene in the crisis and “guide your people back towards the path of righteousness again”, in an open letter published on September 7.

“If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep,” he wrote.

“A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country. It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country; it is adding to our pain.”

Source – Al Jazeera