OPEN LETTER from 5 NOBEL WOMEN LAUREATES TO AUNG SAN SUU KYI: STOP THE PERSECUTION OF ROHINGYAS

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Dear State Counsellor and sister Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,

In the years leading to your final release in 2010, your struggle for democracy was ours. Your defiant activism and unimaginable sacrifices profoundly inspired us, and like the rest of the world, we held you as a beacon of hope for Burma and for our human family. Along with other fellow laureates, we worked tirelessly and diligently for your personal freedom.

It is thus with deep shock, sadness and alarm that we witness your indifference to the cruelty inflicted upon the Rohingya minority today. Nearly 270,000 people have sought refuge into neighbouring Bangladesh these past two weeks, and a recent UN report has highlighted an all too familiar story: extrajudicial executions; enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention; rape, including gang rape, and other forms of sexual violence. Arson attacks are being launched on civilians and entire villages burnt, leading to what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calls “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. This is an assault on our humanity as a whole.

As Nobel Laureates working under the banner of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, we have supported the groundbreaking work and courage of women activists inside and along the borders of Burma for a decade. Their tireless activism consistently highlights abuses committed by the Burmese military. Just last November the Women’s League of Burma denounced the ferocious militarism that plagues Burma: “[…] we are gravely concerned for the security of women in conflict areas. It is urgently needed for the government to end impunity for state-sponsored sexual violence, and bring the military under civilian control”.

As a fellow Nobel Laureate, a worldwide icon for the universal freedom and human rights, and now State Counsellor and de-facto Prime Minister of Burma, you have a personal and moral responsibility to uphold and defend the rights of your citizens.

How many Rohingya have to die; how many Rohingya women will be raped; how many communities will be razed before you raise your voice in defense of those who have no voice? Your silence is not in line with the vision of “democracy” for your country that you outlined to us, and for which we all supported you over the years.

As women committed to peace, as your sisters and fellow Laureates, we urge you to take a firm stand on this unfolding crisis: recognize Rohingyas as citizens with full rights and take all expedited measures possible to end the persecution of innocent civilians by the Myanmar authorities.

In the words of fellow Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep.” The time is now for you to stand for the rights of Rohingya people, with the same vigour and conviction so many around the world stood for yours.

Sincerely,

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, (1976) – Northern Ireland

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1997) – United States

Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate (2003) – Iran

Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate (2011) – Liberia

Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Laureate (2011) – Yemen

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2 COMMENTS

  1. In Defence of Daw Aung San Suu
    By following the situation in Burma for several decades I would like to say something in defence of Daw Aungsan Suu Kyi. I am not her worshipper nor her follower.

    Firstly, I don’t think she should be classified with Min Aung Laing and other members of the Tatmadaw, as she came into government only a year or two ago. As Burma now stands, the Bamar Tatmadaw is not accountable to her or the Government, but sadly she is in practice accountable to the Tatmadaw. She is being aimed and surrounded with guns that are ready to go off any time.

    In spite of her silence on the Rohingya’s crisis Daw Aung San does not deserve to be persecuted along with the others. Once the Tatmadaw released her from prison and allowed her to become involve in Burma’s politics she became the victim of the Bamar Tatmadaw/Political Institution. Once she is part of it there is nothing much she can do. Her father Bogyoke Aung San was assassinated for having defied the ideology and doctrine of his own Institution. In the early sixties those who thought they could reform the Institution for the better by being part of it were disappointed and ended up very disillusioned.

    Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as Head of the Government has tried not to cause conflict with the Generals, and tried to reform the Institution by politcal and peaceful means. By being part of the Institution she has lost her freedom from fear and so freedom to act.

    Many people have put her on the pedestal and as an icon and a Nobel Prize winner that she is capable of anything and can do no wrong. Now the very same people are disappointed in her because she has not been able to achieve what they wanted of her, or what she wanted to.

    This is a power game the Tarmadaw has been expertly playing for the last 5/6 decades, manipulation, indoctination, lies and secretiveness, always with convincing excuses, ready to take the credit and put the blame on others.

    The Tamadaw’s slogan is ” they do what they have to do for security sake and to save guard the sovereignty of the country”.

  2. This morning I listened to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech- I have already guessed that she would defend the Tatmadaw, but none the less, I am still disappointed. She is either being groomed, indoctrinated and as a victim become a member of the old Bamar Military/political Institution and lost her freedom from fear and freedom to reason and judge correctly. She seems to be blind to the real situation and her argument is very biased. Members of the Institution excel in cloning people, as they are now also doing to their own ethnic group; fuel their emotion with nationalism, religion, hate, anger, revenge and bigotry.

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