Aung San Suu Kyi: Pressure piles on Myanmar's leader to act over Rohingya abuse

Myanmar's defacto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is coming under increasing pressure to intervene over her army's treatment of Rohingya Muslims.

More than 35,000 refugees have crossed the border into Bangladesh in the last 24 hours alone, the UN says, and more than 123,000 have arrived in the past 10 days.

Rohingya refugee girl cooks a meal in an open place near Balukhali in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, after fleeing Myanmar.Reuters

The surge was triggered by an attack on police posts by Rohingya militants which left nine dead and sparked a large scale counter-attack, killing several hundred and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee.

So far Aung San Suu Kyi, the effective head of the country's government, has said nothing but is coming under intense pressure to condemn her military's actions.

Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and once considered the embodiment of Myanmar's struggle for democracy, she has so far stuck by the army's line that the Rohinyga are illegally squatting in Myanmar and are not citzens, despite claiming roots going back hundreds of years.

The plight of the Rohingya, considered the most persecuted people group in the world, has prompted calls for her prize to be revoked with Malala Yousafzai, a fellow Nobel laureate, criticising her openly on Twitter.

'Every time I see the news, my heart breaks at the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar,' she said.

'Over the last several years I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment. I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same.'

The UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson warned the violence was 'besmirching the reputation' of Myanmar adding he hoped Aung San Suu Kyi would use 'all her remarkable qualities to unite her country, to stop the violence and to end the prejudice that afflicts both Muslims and other communities in Rakhine'.

In a statement, he said: 'Aung Sang Suu Kyi is rightly regarded as one of the most inspiring figures of our age but the treatment of the Rohingya is alas besmirching the reputation of Burma.

'She faces huge challenges in modernising her country... It is vital that she receives the support of the Burmese military, and that her attempts at peacemaking are not frustrated.

'She and all in Burma will have our full support in this.'

Rohingya refugees build new shelter near the Kutupalang Makeshift Refugee in Cox's Bazar, BangladeshReuters

Other world leaders, including senior United Nations figures, have also spoken out with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urging restraint and Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, saying the situation is 'perhaps the worst ... in Myanmar in a long time'.

A petition signed by hundreds of thousands of people is calling for Aung San Suu Kyis's award to be removed and she is being urged to act by other governments.

But the Nobel Committee has never rescinded a prize and will not in Aung San Suu Kyi's case either, said Gunnar Stalsett, a former committee member, according to the New York Times.

'A peace prize has never been revoked and the committee does not issue condemnations or censure laureates," said Mr. Stalsett, a former politician and bishop who was a deputy member of the committee in 1991, when Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi received her award.

'The principle we follow is the decision is not a declaration of a saint,' he said. 'When the decision has been made and the award has been given, that ends the responsibility of the committee.'

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