THREE Nobel Peace laureates visited Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh on Sunday, in an effort to raise awareness of sexual violence in the conflict. The three women expressed disappointment with their fellow Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, after meeting Rohingya Muslim women who were tortured and raped by soldiers in Burma (Myanmar).
According to the Nobel Women’s Initiative – a platform of six female peace laureates established in 2006 – Iran’s Shirin Ebadi, Yemen’s Tawakkol Karman and Northern Ireland’s Mairead Maguire will examine the violence experienced by Rohingya women, as well as assess the overall situation of the refugees’.
After hearing detailed accounts of brutal torture at the hands of Burma’s soldiers, Maguire gave an emotional interview, during which she struggled to hold back tears.
“This is a slaughter of the innocence of the Rohingya people,” she said, as reported by the Dhaka Tribune. “This is a policy of the Burmese military of genocide, of ethnic cleansing, of the people of Rohingya.”
Both Maguire and Karman called on the international community to “wake up” and do more to help the Rohingya population. Maguire added that the Burmese army must be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to face justice for their actions.
They also made a plea to fellow Nobel laureate and Burma’s de-facto leader.
“It’s our appeal to our sister Aung San Suu Kyi to wake up,” said Karman. “Otherwise she will be one of the perpetrators of this crime. If she can’t stop all this crime, then she has to resign, now.”
Karman stopped short of calling for Suu Kyi’s prosecution. While she said she did not want her “sister laureate” to appear at the ICJ, Karman warned, “if she continues her silence, she will be one of them.”
More than 655,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled across the border to Bangladesh since “clearance operations” by the military began on Aug 25. Those who have escaped tell stories of mass rape, torture, mass killings and burning of villages by Burma’s military. The United Nations have called it a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
The military have denied these actions, despite the discovery of mass graves in Rakhine state.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been noticeably absent in defence of the Rohingya people. Her failure to prevent the alleged atrocities could amount to crimes against humanity, according to UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar Yanghee Lee.