UNITED NATIONS: More than a dozen Nobel laureates have urged the United Nations to “end the human crisis” of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim group, whose members have been fleeing to Bangladesh to escape a bloody military crackdown.
In an open letter addressed to the UN Security Council, 23 Nobel laureates, politicians, philanthropists and activists said “a human tragedy amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity is unfolding in Myanmar.”
They also criticized the country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi — herself a Nobel Peace Prize winner — for what they called a lack of initiative to protect the Rohingyas.
“We are frustrated that she has not taken any initiative to ensure full and equal citizenship rights of the Rohingyas,” the group wrote.
Rohingya survivors say they suffered rape, murder and arson at the hands of soldiers — accounts that have raised global alarm and galvanized protests around Southeast Asia.
Bangladesh’s government has been under pressure to open its border to the fleeing refugees, but it has reinforced its border posts and deployed coastguard ships to prevent fresh arrivals.
“The Rohingyas are among the world’s most persecuted minorities, who for decades have been subjected to a campaign of marginalization and dehumanization,” said the authors — among them peace prize winners Desmond Tutu, Shirin Ebadi and Jose Ramos-Horta.
They asked the 15-member Security Council to add the “crisis” to its agenda “as a matter of urgency, and to call upon the secretary-general to visit Myanmar in the coming weeks” — either current UN chief Ban Ki-moon, or his successor Antonio Guterres, who will take over the post next month.
“If we fail to take action, people may starve to death if they are not killed with bullets, and we may end up being the passive observers of crimes against humanity which will lead us once again to wring our hands belatedly and say ‘never again’ all over again,” the letter said.
The Rohingya have languished under years of dire poverty and discrimination from a government that denies them citizenship. The UN and other rights groups have repeatedly called on Myanmar to grant them full rights.