Foreign Minister Børge Brende has joined international calls for Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi to stop the violence against the Rohingya Muslims in her native Burma/Myanmar. Brende claims that as a Nobel Laureate, Suu Kyi has a special responsibility to help the ethnic minority that has been harassed for years.
At least 123,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee squalid refugee camps in Myanmar. Many have been victims of violence also as they try to travel to Bangladesh, where conditions are also appalling. Brende is especially worried about the escalating violence, murders and the humanitarian situation in general.
Suu Kyi won international support for her own struggle against the authorities in her homeland and is now part of its government. She has since disappointed her supporters, many of them in Norway where she was awarded the Peace Prize and could finally collect it years later, for failing to help the long-persecuted Rohingya remaining mostly silent about their situation. Officials of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are also deeply concerned and disappointed.
Brende called on Suu Kyi and the leadership of Myanmar, which has received large amounts of financial aid from Norway, to “protect civilians from assault, stop the violence and allow access emergency and humanitarian assistance.”
Brende told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he took up the problems around Myanmar’s treatment of minorities living in the Rakhine area when he met once again with Suu Kyu in Myanmar in July. “It’s extremely serious that humanitarian workers have had to reduce or stop their efforts becasue of the acute situation,” Brende said. He also promised to increase Norway’s aid by NOK 15 million.
Suu Kyi, who became Myanmar’s top civilian leader after finally being released from house arrest, still lacks full control over the country’s military forces, which are accused of being extremely brutal in their treatment of the Rohingya. UN officials have likened the situation to “ethnic cleansing,” while Suu Kyi has earlier denied that her country carries out attacks on the Muslim minority. An estimated 400 are nonetheless believed to have been killed in recent weeks, including children.
On Wednesday Suu Kyi broke her silence and claimed the international media was full of incorrect information that presented an incorrect picture of the situation. She claimed the false reports were “calculated to create problems” among various ethnic groups, and even to promote the interests of terrorists.
Her comments came after a phone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who was highly critical of how authorities in Myanmar were treating the Muslim group. She reportedly claimed that the government was taking steps to protect civilians living in Rakhine.