The Irrawaddy

UN Experts Urge Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to Meet Persecuted Muslims

Rohingya refugees queue for aid at Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton - RC14C4FD71E0

GENEVA – Myanmar’s leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should personally meet members of the self-identifying Rohingya Muslim minority that is being subjected to ongoing persecution by the military, a group of UN human rights experts said on Tuesday.

Myanmar has rejected UN accusations that its forces are engaged in ethnic cleansing against self-identifying Rohingya Muslims in response to coordinated attacks by Muslim insurgents on the security forces on Aug. 25.

The military campaign has sent nearly 430,000 refugees fleeing to Bangladesh, the group of seven UN officials said. They include the special rapporteurs on human rights in Myanmar, on minority issues and on racism.

“We call on Aung San Suu Kyi to meet the Rohingya personally,” the officials said in a statement.

They said the implementation of promises by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to address the crisis, including that perpetrators would be held accountable, would amount to an “empty gesture” since so many self-identifying Rohingya had fled.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace prize winner whose government came to power last year in a transition from nearly 50 years of harsh military rule. She has denounced any rights violations but international pressure on her is mounting and there are calls for her Nobel prize to be withdrawn.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has little if any control over the security forces under a military-drafted constitution that also bars her from the presidency and gives the military veto power over political reform.

The 1.1 million self-identifying Rohingya in Buddhist majority Myanmar are denied citizenship and classified as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, despite claiming roots in the region that go back centuries, with communities marginalized and occasionally subjected to communal violence.