An Irish missionary based in Myanmar has called for Burmese leader, Aung San Suu Kyi to return her Nobel Peace Prize because of her refusal to condemn the “genocide” of Rohingya Muslims in her country.
Columban Fr Neil Magill, who has been teaching in Myanmar for 11 years, described the “brutal persecution against the Rohingya people in Rakhine State and in the Kachin and Shan States” as “genocide”.
“Women are raped by the military, shot along with their screaming children. Hundreds of thousands have tried to escape by old boats to places which don’t want them. Landmines are placed along their paths and they are blown up,” he told The Irish Catholic from Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city.
“We must make these atrocious acts known to the world,” he said, adding that Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize “should be revoked as she has not opened her mouth to condemn these brutal atrocities”.
The Columbans have a number of Irish missionary priests and sisters working in Myanmar. The congregation’s superior general, Fr Kevin O’Neill SSC has urged “an end to the violence and violation of human rights of the Rohingya people” and said he hopes “for their peaceful return to their homes in the Rakhine State”.
An estimated 1.1 million Rohingya based in Rakhine state have endured decades of persecution in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar. Over 300,000 had fled to Bangladesh before the latest crackdown began on August 25, following an alleged attack by Rohingya militants on police targets, bringing the overall figure of refugees to over 700,000.
The UN Human High Commissioner for Refugees has received reports that security forces and militia are burning Rohingya towns and shooting fleeing civilians. The United Nations’ human rights chief described that the situation as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who was a political prisoner for years before coming to power, gave her first public address on Tuesday since the bloody army crackdown began, saying her government has to make sure allegations “are based on solid evidence before we take action”.
Pope Francis, who has spoken out repeatedly in support of the Rohingya Muslims, is due to visit Myanmar in November, the first ever papal visit to the country.