Aung San Suu Kyi, the state counselor of Myanmar, refused to earnestly discuss reports of Rohingya women and girls being systematically raped by the country’s security forces, according to an exclusive story published The Guardian.
The publication reviewed an internal memo from a meeting between Suu Kyi and Pramila Patten, a senior U.N. envoy on sexual violence in conflict. In a letter to U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres, Patten wrote that the “meeting with the state counselor was a cordial courtesy call of approximately 45 minutes that was, unfortunately, not substantive in nature.”
Patten said that Suu Kyi instead promised her she would attend “a number of good meetings” with senior Myanmar officials, who in turn said that claims of rape had been wildly exaggerated.
“Moreover, a belief was expressed that those who fled did so due to an affiliation with terrorist groups, and did so to evade law enforcement,” Patten wrote.
Suu Kyi has been widely criticized for failing to speak out against the persecution of minority Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state — a campaign of violence that has prompted more than 650,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. Media reports have revealed that Myanmar’s security forces are brutally and systematically raping women and girls as a “calculated tool of terror.”
After an internal investigation into allegations of violence, Myanmar’s military cleared itself of any blame. But like many other activists and experts, Patten cast doubt on the results of the investigation.
“The military investigation, which consisted of armed men in uniform ‘interrogating’ civilians in large group settings, often on camera, and then presenting rations to communities following their testimony and cooperation, clearly occurred under coercive circumstances, where the incentive structure was not to lodge complaints,” Patten wrote. “Accordingly, over 800 interviews yielded zero reports of sexual or other violence against civilians by the armed and security forces.”
The wave of criticism Suu Kyi continues to face has been tremendous. The Nobel Prize laureate has come under fire from some of the world’s most famous people, including Malala Yousafzai, Angelina Jolie, titans of the music industry, and she’s had her prestigious Freedom of Oxford honor withdrawn due to her silence over the issue.
And now, everyday parents are demanding that Suu Kyi be removed from a popular children’s book in which she’s featured. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls has been one of the most popular books of the year, and it features stories about some of the world’s most accomplished women, including Hillary Clinton, Serena Williams and Aung San Suu Kyi. Parents who have purchased the book, which is meant for children as young as 6 years of age, have begun posting their outrage at her inclusion in the text and their demands that she be dropped from it on the Facebook page used to promote the book, The Guardian reported.
“As much as 99 per cent of book is inspiring, I found it absolutely disgusting that you have included someone suspected of genocide in the book. Aung San Suu Kyi has no place between those women,” one mother wrote, according to The Guardian. “Someone who does nothing and perhaps is directly involved in massacres, rapes, burning of kids alive … I am speechless she is in the book.”
(c) 2017 The New York Times