Malala urges Suu Kyi to act over Rohingya violence

'World is waiting': Malala Yousafzai urges Aung San Suu Kyi to act over Rohingya violence
3 min read
04 September, 2017
Malala Yousafzai is urging Aung San Suu Kyi to condemn the 'tragic and shameful' treatment of the Myanmar’s Rohingya people.
Nearly 90,000 Rohingya have flooded into Bangladesh in the past 10 days [Getty]
Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai joined the growing chorus of criticism on Monday aimed at Myanmar and its civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi over the plight of its Rohingya Muslim minority.

Nearly 90,000 Rohingya have flooded into Bangladesh in the past 10 days following an uptick in fighting between militants and Myanmar's military in strife-torn western Rakhine state.

The impoverished region bordering Bangladesh has been a crucible of communal tensions between Muslims and Buddhists for years, with the Rohingya forced to live under apartheid-like restrictions on movement and citizenship.

The recent violence, which kicked off last October when a small Rohingya militant group ambushed border posts, is the worst Rakhine has witnessed in years with the UN saying Myanmar's army may have committed ethnic cleansing in its response.

De facto leader Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner of Myanmar's junta, has come under increasing fire over her perceived unwillingness to speak out against the treatment of the Rohingya or chastise the military.

She has made no public comment since the latest fighting broke out.

Every time I see the news, my heart breaks at the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar
"Every time I see the news, my heart breaks at the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar," Pakistani activist Yousafzai said in a statement on Twitter.

"Over the last several years I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment. I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same," she added.

Yousafzai, who narrowly avoided death in 2012 after being shot in the head by the Pakistani Taliban for her outspoken campaigning over girls’ rights to an education, called for more countries to offer the Rohingya food, shelter and schooling.

Awarded the Novel peace prize in 2014, the youngest ever recipient, she recently celebrated a place at the University of Oxford to philosophy, politics and economics.

Her comments come after British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned Aung San Suu Kyi that the treatment of the ethnic minority group was “besmirching” the country’s reputation.

“Aung San Suu Kyi is rightly regarded as one of the most inspiring figures of our age but the treatment of the Rohingya is alas besmirching the reputation of Burma," Johnson said on Saturday. 

“She faces huge challenges in modernising her country. I hope she can now use all her remarkable qualities to unite her country, to stop the violence and to end the prejudice that afflicts both Muslims and other communities in Rakhine.

“It is vital that she receives the support of the Burmese military, and that her attempts at peacemaking are not frustrated. She and all in Burma will have our full support in this.”

Last week, graphic eyewitness footage emerged showing Rohingya Muslims allegedly killed while fleeing state violence in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state.

A series of videos show villages being burned as well as bodies of dead children and old women, allegedly killed by Myanmar armed forces.

"Everything has been burned to ashes by now," one eyewitness told Human Rights Watch (HRW), adding that security forces had shot civilians as they ran away.

HRW reports that widespread arson attacks in Rakhine appear to resemble the scale of previous state violence campaigns in 2012 and 2016.

In one extremely graphic YouTube video, 12 young children and four elderly ladies, all dead, are laid out on the ground. According to the cameraman, they were all allegedly killed after a government gunboat attacked their vessel as it was crossing a river.

Myanmar state media denies the allegations of army atrocities, reporting that civilians had been advised to flee a spate of arson attacks across the state.

A recent report, submitted to the UN, found that the Muslim population in Rakhine constituted the "single biggest stateless community in the world".

"Some ten percent of the world's stateless people live in Myanmar," the report said.