Three Nobel laureates on Monday denounced what they described as genocide unleashed by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya, and urged fellow Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi to wake up or face prosecution before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The three women laureates – Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Shirin Ebadi of Iran – spoke out while visiting the refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district during a weeklong trip that started over the weekend.
“This is what genocide is about,” Maguire told reporters. “This is clearly, clearly, clearly genocide that is going on by the Myanmar government and military against the Rohingya people.”
“We refuse this genocide policy of the Burmese government,” Maguire said. “They will be taken to the ICC, and those who are committing genocide will be held responsible.”
Karman appealed to Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, “to wake up, otherwise she will be one of the perpetrators of this crime.
“If she couldn’t stop all these crimes, she has to resign now,” Karman told reporters.
Myanmar has repeatedly denied allegations that its security forces committed widespread rape against women and killings as part of a campaign described by the United Nations and the United States as “ethnic cleansing.”
Nearly 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Rakhine state since August 2017 at the height of what the Myanmar military called “clearance operations” targeting insurgents involved in attacks on security outposts.
Maguire said that every woman they interviewed claimed to have been sexually assaulted, with many of the refugees saying they had witnessed the killing of relatives.
The trio took turns lambasting Myanmar.
“We are calling for those who are perpetrators of the crimes to be accountable,” Karman told reporters. “It is the shame of the international community; they are silent against this genocide.”
“The cause of all these crimes is the government of Burma,” Ebadi said, referring to Myanmar by its old name. “The Myanmar government must be punished.”
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it had documented gut-wrenching stories from refugees who fled into Bangladesh, with survivors describing systematic mass rape, murder and the burning down of entire villages.
In addition, HRW on Friday issued satellite images showing the demolition of deserted Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine state in recent months, Radio Free Asia previously reported.
Citing the images, HRW said the government had used heavy machinery to clear all structures and vegetation in at least 55 villages, most of which were among 362 villages completely or partially destroyed by arson during a military crackdown that began in late August.