Defending the indefensible

 

Sir, – Aung San Suu Kyi has decided to personally represent Myanmar at the International Court of Justice in The Hague (World News, December 12th).

As we mark Human Rights Day this week, it seems particularly ironic that the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights, who was placed under house arrest for 15 years, is now defending the Myanmar military against genocide charges.

Since August 2017, more than 730,000 Rohingya people have fled Myanmar after the military-led crackdown and are living in squalid, overcrowded camps across the border in Bangladesh.

However, the systemic discrimination, persecution and exclusion of the stateless Rohingya has been happening for decades, each time they have been repatriated to Myanmar to face the same persecution.

I was working in Bangladesh in 1992 when the Rohingya Muslim refugees fled to Bangladesh for the second time in their history. The first time they fled was back in 1970s.

Each time, Rohingya refugees arrived desperate and traumatised, having had to flee their homes because of military persecution and brutal atrocities.

Back in 1992, I remember asking myself, “Why on earth would anyone flee to Bangladesh?” as Bangladesh was such a poor, overcrowded and deprived country at the time. I concluded the situation must be really terrible in Rakhine State, from where they came. It was.

The Rohingya have suffered repeated violence and persecution over the decades.

While the eyes of the world focus on Aung San Suu Kyi and the issue of genocide being considered in The Hague, a key issue that needs to be urgently addressed is the statelessness of the Rohingya and denial of their citizenship in Myanmar.

Sadly, until these issues are addressed they will continue to suffer persecution and displacement. – Yours, etc,

PAUL O’BRIEN,

Chief Executive Officer Plan

International Ireland,

Dublin 2.