South Africa’s outspoken Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Thursday castigated Aung San Suu Kyi over the Myanmar government’s treatment of its Rohingya Muslims and urged her to intervene in the crisis.
The United Nations on Thursday said that nearly 164,000 Rohingya have escaped to Bangladesh over the past two weeks in the wake of a massive security sweep and alleged atrocities by the country’s security forces and Buddhist mobs against the Rohingya.
Suu Kyi, feted for her years of peaceful opposition to Myanmar’s junta rulers, has been urged to speak up for the Rohingya, with Muslim nations and the UN leading condemnation of her government.
Tutu, who helped dismantle apartheid in South Africa and became the moral voice of the nation, joined in the condemnation.
“If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep,” Tutu said in a statement.
“It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country; it is adding to our pain,” he said noting that “the images we are seeing of the suffering of the Rohingya fill us with pain and dread.”
“As we witness the unfolding horror we pray for you to be courageous and resilient again… for you to speak out for justice, human rights and the unity of your people,” said Tutu.
Witnesses in Myanmar’s Rakhine state say entire villages have been burned to the ground since Rohingya militants launched a series of coordinated attacks on August 25, prompting a military-led crackdown.