Members of the United Nations who were readying to investigate accusations of mass killings of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims were denied visas by the government, which is led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
While Kyi had already said her government would not cooperate previously, officials confirmed that U.N. inspectors would not be allowed in the country, The Guardian reports.
Kyi took power last year after a transition from military rule that placed her in the position of “state counselor” and minister of foreign affairs. While she's not responsible for the military, which is the government's body being accused of mass killings, rape, and torture against Rohingya Muslims, she has failed to stand up for all who currently live in Myanmar, including the more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims who are denied citizenship in the country.
Kyaw Zeya, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that if U.N. investigation team members are attempting to enter the country just to look into the allegations, “then there’s no reason for us to let them come.” Earlier this month, Kyi gave an interview in Sweden and said that the U.N. mission “would have created greater hostility between the different communities.”
The Rohingya Muslim communities are mostly concentrated in the western state of Rakhine, the home of the ethnic Rakhine Buddhists. According to the Rakhine, the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and must not be allowed to remain in the country.
When the Myanmar army was allegedly involved in mass killings and gang rapes of the Rohingya after insurgents killed nine border police officers last year, about 75,000 fled to Bangladesh. In February, a U.N. report stated that the country's official response to the guard killings could amount to crimes against humanity, saying it was “very likely” that their actions would be considered ethnic cleansing.
Still, Myanmar says that no international investigation is necessary. Instead, they say their own probe, led by former lieutenant general and vice president, Myint Swe, should suffice.
“Why do they try to use unwarranted pressure when the domestic mechanisms have not been exhausted?” Zeya asked reporters. “It will not contribute to our efforts to solve the issues in a holistic manner.”
As pressure mounts and Myanmar is pushed to allow international authorities to look into this matter, it might become difficult for the country to remain silent on the mass killings of the Rohingya. But without accountability, the deaths may continue to increase, and the persecuted minority may soon be wiped off of the map as a result.
It's terrifying to think that Kyi, a Nobel laureate and celebrated leader, who was herself persecuted for so long, would turn a blind eye to this crisis.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun