Nobel peace laureates demand Suu Kyi, generals punishment

Nobel Peace laureates in a joint statement have demanded that Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, along with her army commanders, be held criminally accountable for crimes committed against the minority Rohingya Muslims, report agencies. “As Nobel Peace laureates, we call on Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, to publicly acknowledge the crimes, including genocide, committed against the Rohingya,” said the joint statement.

The hearing on genocide by Myanmar against Rohingyas began at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Tuesday in The Hague, Netherlands as the Gambia asked the top UN court to urgently order measures “to stop Myanmar’s genocidal conduct.” Suu Kyi, who once held her under house arrest, will defend those on Wednesday at the top UN court.

“We’re deeply concerned that instead of condemning these crimes, Aung San Suu Kyi is actively denying that these atrocities even occurred,” said statement of the Nobel peace laureates. The Nobel peace laureates are Shirin Ebadi (Nobel Peace Laureate 2003, Iran), Leymah Gbowee (Nobel Peace Laureate 2011, Liberia), Tawakkol Karman (Nobel Peace Laureate 2011, Yemen), Mairead Maguire (Nobel Peace Laureate 1976, Northern Ireland) Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Nobel Peace Laureate 1992, Guatemala), Jody Williams (Nobel Peace Laureate 1997, USA) and Kailash Satyarthi (Nobel Peace Laureate 2014, India).

The Gambia filed a lawsuit in November 2019 with the International Court of Justice – the United Nations’ highest court – for atrocities committed against the Rohingya by Myanmar. “We commend The Gambia for taking this step to hold Myanmar responsible for the genocide against the Rohingya and for advancing justice for the victims of these crimes,” the statement said.

Just days after the ICJ complaint was lodged, the International Criminal Court announced that it will be investigating crimes committed against the Rohingya. The Rohingya, a Muslim and ethnic minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, have suffered decades of systematic discrimination with the government of Myanmar not even recognising them as citizen.

In 2017, Myanmar’s military, police and local militia burned Rohingya villages, systematically shot and killed Rohingya and committed acts of sexual violence and rape – used as a weapon of war – against women and girls. Since August 2017, Bangladesh has received over 700,000 Rohingyas with now close to one million Rohingya living in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Many are scared of repatriation as there is no guarantee for their safety if returned to Myanmar.

“As people of peace, we urge Aung San Suu Kyi to address the systematic discrimination of the Rohingya in Rakhine State, and ensure the Rohingya’s right to nationality, land ownership, freedom of movement and other fundamental rights,” said the Nobel laureates. They also urged her to exercise her personal and moral responsibility towards the Rohingya and acknowledge and condemn the genocide committed under her watch.

In February 2018, three Nobel peace laureates -- Tawakkol Karman, Shirin Ebadi, and Mairead Maguire -- visited Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. They spent time with and listened to the stories of over 100 women refugees. After hearing testimonies describing how security forces burned villages, tortured, killed and systematically raped women and girls—as well as reports from humanitarian organizations and UN officials— the Laureates concluded that the attacks on the Rohingya of Rakhine State amounted to crimes against humanity and genocide. They requested visas to meet Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, but permission to travel to Myanmar was not granted.