Suu Kyi tarred by the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Muslim Rohingya
The UN has warned the international reputation of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s fledgling Myanmar government is at stake over its handling of the Rohingya crisis, as allegations of human rights abuses against the Muslim minority continue to leak out from northern Rakhine state.
The warning from UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide Adama Dieng reflects an astonishing reversal of global opinion of Myanmar’s 71-year-old democracy champion, whom the international community rallied behind for decades as she languished under military house arrest.
Mr Dieng said allegations of atrocities “must be verified as a matter of urgency” and urged the government to allow access to the area.
“If they are true, the lives of thousands of people are at risk. The reputation of Myanmar, its new government and its military forces is also at stake. Myanmar cannot expect that such serious allegations are ignored or go unscrutinised,” he said.
Many had hoped Ms Suu Kyi’s refusal to speak out against the persecution of Rohingyasin the lead-up to her National League for Democracy election win last November was a political tactic to avoid handing advantage to the former military junta generals she unseated. There is little sympathy in Buddhist-majority Myanmar for its estimated one million Rohingya, widely seen as illegal Bangladeshi migrants.
But her government is facing fierce and unaccustomed criticism for its refusal to allow international aid workers and journalists access to Rakhine to verify claims of atrocities against the Rohingya, and for failing to act against what one UN official last week called a military campaign of “ethnic cleansing”.
Hundreds have fled the area since the military launched its “clearance operation” in early October in retaliation for a deadly attack on security posts by suspected Rohingya militants.
Aid groups say some 30,000 Rohingya men, women and children have been displaced from Maungdaw, near the Bangladesh border, and more than 130,000 have been without critical food and medical aid since the military purge began seven weeks ago.
Satellite images released by US-based Human Rights Watch this month, as well as footage smuggled out by Rohingya activists, suggest as many as 1200 homes have been torched.
Senior UN High Commissioner for Refugees official John McKissick last week accused Myanmar forces of “killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river” into Bangladesh, with the “ultimate goal of ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority in Myanmar”.
Ms Suu Kyi’s government, which she heads as state counsellor because the military-drafted constitution prevents her from being president, has denied allegations of mass rape of Rohingya women, and said Rohingya populations are burning down their own houses.
That has sparked accusations her government is mimicking the country’s former military junta, and also created divisions among ASEAN nations, with Muslim-majority countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia expressing deep concern over the issue.
Earlier this week Ms Suu Kyi cancelled a visit to Indonesia — ostensibly for security reasons after police uncovered a terror plot against the Myanmar embassy — even as she pushed ahead yesterday with a trip to Singapore.
Matthew Smith from Fortify Rights said yesterday if emergency aid did not soon reach displaced communities there could be “significant loss of life” and that “villages are literally burning as we speak”. “These are avoidable deprivations. There is no impossible logistical hurdle to reach these people,” he said.
“Since October 9, 20 out of 26 international aid workers have had to leave Maungdaw because the government has refused to renew travel authorities. Aung San Suu Kyi essentially controls the issuing of travel authorities.”
The violence is the worst since 2012 when hundreds of Rohingya were killed in clashes with Buddhist mobs.
Source by: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/suu-kyi-tarred-by-the-ethnic-cleansing-of-muslim-rohingya/news-story/12b738ab67527882215c9499e576d519