Rohingya crisis: Nobel laureates, global leaders write to UN | The Daily Star
09:24 PM, December 29, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:58 PM, December 29, 2016

Rohingya crisis: Nobel laureates, global leaders write open letter to UNSC

Dr Yunus, Desmond Tutu, Malala, Shirin Ebadi among dignitaries

Twenty-three Nobel laureates and global leaders have urged the UN Security Council (UNSC) members to urgently put the Rohingya issue on its agenda and called upon the UN secretary-general to visit Myanmar as a priority.

"If the current Secretary-General is able to do so, we would urge him to go; if not, we encourage the new Secretary-General to make it one of his first tasks after he takes office in January," reads an open letter sent to the president of the UNSC and to all its member states.

The dignitaries, who have made the joint plea for the Rohingyas, one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, include Dr Muhammad Yunus, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Malala Yousafzai, Shirin Ebadi and Arianna Huffington. 

Thirteen Nobel laureates and 10 business people, philanthropists, activists and politicians of global repute are among the signatories, who expressed concern that Rohingya persecution in Myanmar bears the hallmarks of genocides and past tragedies like the ones in - Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

They urged the United Nations to do everything possible to encourage the Myanmar government to lift all restrictions on humanitarian aid so that people receive emergency assistance.

"Access for journalists and human rights monitors should also be permitted, and an independent, international inquiry to establish the truth about the current situation should be established," the letter said.

The plea came at a time when "a human tragedy amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity is unfolding in Myanmar", the letter noted. 

"Over the past two months, a military offensive by the Myanmar Army in Rakhine State has led to the killing of hundreds of Rohingya people. Over 30,000 people have been displaced," they observed.

"Houses have been burned, women raped, many civilians arbitrarily arrested, and children killed. Crucially, access for humanitarian aid organisations has been almost completely denied, creating an appalling humanitarian crisis in an area already extremely poor."

Their open letter described, "Thousands [of Rohingyas] have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, only to be sent back. Some international experts have warned of the potential for genocide. It has all the hallmarks of recent past tragedies - Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia, Kosovo."

They expressed frustration at Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's non-initiative in ensuring rights of the Rohingya people.

The open letter noted, "Despite repeated appeals to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi we are frustrated that she has not taken any initiative to ensure full and equal citizenship rights of the Rohingyas. Daw Suu Kyi is the leader and is the one with the primary responsibility to lead, and lead with courage, humanity and compassion."

"It is time for the international community as a whole to speak out much more strongly. After Rwanda, world leaders said, “never again”. If we fail to take action, people may starve to death if they are not killed with bullets, and we may end up being the passive observers of crimes against humanity which will lead us once again to wring our hands belatedly and say “never again” all over again."


Nobel Laureates in Peace - Professor Muhammad Yunus (2006  Nobel Peace Laureate), José Ramos-Horta (1996), Máiread Maguire (1976), Betty Williams (1976), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1984), Oscar Arias (1987), Jody Williams (1997), Shirin Ebadi (2003), Tawakkol Karman (2011), Leymah Gbowee (2011), and Malala Yousafzai (2014) and two Nobel Laureates in Medicine, Sir Richard J. Roberts (1993) and Elizabeth Blackburn (2009).

Ex-Italian prime minister and foreign minister, Romano Prodi and Emma Bonino respectively; The Huffington Post founder and editor, Arianna Huffington; business leaders and philanthropists, Sir Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz; business leader, Paul Polman; entrepreneur and philanthropist, Mo Ibrahim; SDG advocate and film director, Richard Curtis; SDG advocate and Fellow of the Voice of Libyan Women, Alaa Murabit; and human rights activist Kerry Kennedy.

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star Android & iOS News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 22222

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News