Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi should have resigned over the authorities’ crackdown against the Rohingya, according to the UN’s outgoing human rights chief.
The comments come as the military-controlled authorities are again accused of using fake evidence to justify the slaughter.
“She was in a position to do something,” the UN’s Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told the BBC.
“She could have stayed quiet – or even better, she could have resigned. There was no need for her to be the spokesperson of the Burmese military. She didn’t have to say this was an iceberg of misinformation. These were fabrications.”
The orchestrated military purge in response to alleged attacks by purported Rohingya militants on August 25, 2017, drove more than 700,000 of the Muslim community from Rakhine State across the border into Bangladesh, where they have given similar accounts of systematic rape, murder and arson.
A new book on the Rohingya crisis by military propagandists uses fake photographs and a rewriting of history in what appears to be another attempt to justify the thousands of killings.
The 117-page book, published last month by the military’s department of public relations and psychological warfare, includes what it calls “documentary photos”. Reuters said at least three of the eight supposedly Rakhine photographs in the book were fake.
One was taken in Bangladesh, one in Tanzania and a third is captioned as depicting Rohingya entering Myanmar from Bangladesh, when in reality it shows them attempting to flee.
Suu Kyi’s status as a Nobel Peace laureate is now mocked internationally as she failed to challenge the army or Tatmadaw.
Despite drone videos of fleeing refugees and burned-out villages, phone videos of military attacks and thousands of testimonies from female victims, Suu Kyi said an “iceberg of misinformation” had obscured the real picture of what had happened and backed the crackdown as a justified response to “terrorist” acts. No independent media or NGOs are allowed into the border region so the military’s allegations of attacks remain unverified.
The crackdown repeats a pattern of systematic rape and killing by the military of other ethnically distinct groups in Kachin and Shan states.
It has been a difficult week for Myanmar.
On Monday a UN report said Myanmar’s commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, by far the most important figure in Nay Pyi Taw, should be charged with “genocide”.
It criticised Suu Kyi for failing to use her “moral authority” to condemn the violence.
The report drew the typical denials from Nay Pyi Taw, which is under little domestic pressure to protect Rohingya rights.
Suu Kyi’s international reputation is now in tatters but she remains popular domestically. Hussein said she should have leveraged her domestic authority to condemn the military operation, instead of effectively acting as a cloak for their actions.
“She could have said look, you know, I am prepared to be the nominal leader of the country but not under these conditions,” he said.
The Rohingya in Bangladesh. Picture credit: Wikimedia