As tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims flee violence in Myanmar and global criticism mounts over the civilian government’s silence on the crisis, the country’s top Catholic leader says that Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi “should have spoken out.”
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, the Catholic archbishop of Yangon, says the people in Rakhine State face “immense” suffering, exacerbated by decades of neglect and mistreatment, for which there is no quick fix.
“The world looks at Aung San Suu Kyi with the same lens with which it looked at her during her struggle for democracy,” Bo told TIME in an email. “Now she is part of the government, she is a political leader. Surely she should have spoken out.”
More than 370,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Mynamar’s Rakhine State to Bangladesh in the past three weeks, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency. The recent conflict began on August 25, when Myanmar’s army launched a crackdown in Rakhine State following an alleged attack by Rohingya militants. The U.N. Human High Commissioner for Refugees has received reports that security forces and militia are burning Rohingya towns and shooting fleeing civilians. The United Nations’ human rights chief told the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday that the situation seemed “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”