DHAKA, Bangladesh: Three Nobel Peace laureates on Wednesday accused Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the nation’s military of genocide for their role in violence that has forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh.
The laureates, who are on a weeklong trip to Bangladesh to visit the sprawling refugee camps where the Rohingya are living, said at a news conference in Dhaka that their fellow Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi cannot avoid responsibility.
One of the laureates, Yemen’s Tawakkol Karman, urged Suu Kyi to “wake up” or “face prosecution.”
Her two colleagues — Northern Ireland’s Mairead Maguire and Iran’s Shirin Ebadi — promised to work to bring those responsible to justice.
All of them were emotionally charged as they unanimously called the violence against Rohingya “genocide.”
“There is no other definition, it is genocide, genocide against innocent people” Karman said. “Millions of people [have] been displaced from their cities, women [have] been raped, all the women, we met like 100 women, all of them [have] been raped.”
She said they were overwhelmed as they talked to the children.
“Most of the children we met ... fled to Bangladesh without their families. Their fathers, their mothers [have] been killed, been murdered,” Karman said.
Karman said that as Myanmar’s leader, Suu Kyi should not be silent.
“She did not tell the truth to the world. She should stop her silence, she should wake up and stop this genocide,” she said.
She urged Suu Kyi to resign, saying otherwise she will “face prosecution.”
Maguire said they were looking for legal options to ensure justice. “We plan to take Myanmar’s government to the international court of justice,” she said.
Ebadi blasted her native country, Iran, and other nations for not doing enough for the Rohingya.
The laureates also met Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and promised to work toward resolving the crisis.
Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since late August, when Myanmar’s military retaliated following attacks on security posts by a Rohingya insurgent group.
In November, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement to gradually repatriate Rohingya in “safety, security and dignity,” but the process has been delayed.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar doesn’t recognise the Rohingya as an official ethnic group, and they face intense discrimination and persecution. Myanmar authorities maintain that security operations in Rakhine state have been aimed at clearing out insurgents.
Bangladesh says it will not repatriate any Rohingya against their will, but has urged the international community to continue to put pressure on Myanmar to create conditions for a sustainable repatriation.