A top U.N. investigator said Tuesday “it’s still an open-ended question” about how much Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi could be implicated in human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims.
Marzuki Darusman said it was “probably the case” that Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace prize laureate, may not have been “knowledgeable” about a violent crackdown against the ethnic minority that erupted in August 2017 and ultimately drove hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from their homes in Myanmar. But he said that after the crackdown, she didn’t address it.
“It’s still an open-ended question to what extent she might be implicated,” said Darusman, a former Indonesian attorney-general who headed a fact-finding mission on Myanmar over the last two years on a mandate from the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council.
Darusman spoke to reporters after his team issued its latest report, calling for those who perpetrated rights violations against the Rohingya to be brought to justice, such as through an international tribunal — and even face genocide and crimes against humanity, if necessary. Their report suggested hundreds people could face prosecution, and listed several top Myanmar generals by name.
The fact-finding team has not called for Suu Kyi to be tried, but Darusman’s comments were likely to revive pressure on a leader who has come under scathing criticism for her silence and inaction, such as by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and has been stripped of an array of honors since the Rohingya migrant crisis erupted.
Darusman spoke after Myanmar’s ambassador in Geneva told the council that his country rejects any move to bring the issue of alleged rights violations against the Rohingya to an international legal forum.
Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun insisted Myanmar’s government will “never tolerate any violation of human rights to anyone” and is “capable of addressing the issue of accountability.”
Yanghee Lee, the U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar, appealed to Suu Kyi at the council “to open your eyes, listen, feel with your heart, and please use your moral authority, before it is too late.”
The fact-finding team’s report chronicled an array of alleged human rights violations by Myanmar security forces and said counterinsurgency operations against Rohingya in 2017 included “genocidal acts.” It said the operations had killed thousands of people and caused more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.
Fact-finding mission panelist Christopher Sidoti said the human rights situation in Myanmar hadn’t improved over the last 12 months, and in some ways has gotten worse.
“The longer this goes on, the more impossible it is for the civilian side of the government to escape international criminal responsibility for the human rights situation in Myanmar,” he said.