As reports of atrocities continue to emerge from Myanmar, a U.N. rights expert said she is “baffled” by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s seeming indifference to the crisis raging on her country’s western coast.
Even with her powers restrained by Myanmar’s still-powerful military, Aung San Suu Kyi could be doing more to defuse a situation that has led to a mass exodus of more than 600,000 Rohingya, said Yanghee Lee, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.
Lee told reporters at the U.N. on Thursday that Aung San Suu Kyi’s “non-position on this issue” has “really baffled everyone, and has really baffled me,” the New York Times reported.
Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader could be taking steps to curb the decades of ethnic hostility and widespread hate speech infecting public sentiment toward the long-persecuted Rohingya minority, said Lee.
If Aung San Suu Kyi were instead to “reach out to the people and say, ‘Hey, let’s show some humanity,’ I think people will follow her — she’s adored by the public,” Lee was quoted as saying the Times.
Lee’s comments come just one day after she delivered a scathing synopsis of the “devastating” crisis to the U.N. General Assembly. The military-backed campaign against the Rohingya, prompted by insurgents’ Aug. 25 attacks on security outposts, has earned the label of ethnic cleansing and spawned the world’s fastest-growing refugee catastrophe. Rohingya have fled into neighboring Bangladesh with accounts of arson, murder and mass rapes.
In her presentation to the U.N., Lee appealed for the Security Council to adopt strong measures addressing conflict in Myanmar.
“The crisis in Rakhine State has not only been decades in the making, but is spilling over and continues to spill over to other countries beyond Myanmar’s borders,” said Lee.
The Security Council is mulling a draft resolution aimed at pressuring Myanmar to end the violence, while U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has pledged to hold the military leaders accountable.