Desmond Tutu chides Suu Kyi over silence on Burma 'ethnic cleansing'

Almost a quarter of Myanmar's 1.1 million Rohingya have fled the country since October, when the military launched a crackdown in response to attacks on three border outposts in Rakhine.

Reports of burning villages and soldiers opening fire on civilians have also been made. The petition on Change.org demanding the Nobel Committee to withdraw the award from the leader has now been signed by more than 405,000 people.

Like its predecessor, the Myanmar government has argued that "Rohingya" is an artificial label masking the fact that these people are illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

There are widespread fears that tens of thousands more could try to cross if the violence doesn't abate.

That Prime Minister Narendra Modi nearly ignored Rohingya crisis during his much publicised visit to Myanmar the other day was on the expected lines.

"Many refugees are stranded in no-man's land between the borders with Myanmar", medical charity Doctors Without Borders (known by its French acronym MSF) said in a statement.

Is the Rohingya a high priority for the government as it figures out how to keep the military in good humour and tackle multiple insurgencies. Wirathu praised Ms Suu Kyi as the "mother of the nation" and told me she had visited his monastery in the northern city of Mandalay shortly after her release in 2010. Attacking Aung San Suu Kyi is not the answer. She was kept under house arrest for many years in an attempt to stem her popularity and to stop her spreading her views. That meant living apart from her husband, who died overseas, and apart from her children. The military has started its brutal operation, which has led to more than 2,50,000 people fleeing to the neighbouring country of Bangladesh.

Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his role in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, implored the State Counsellor to speak out.

Suu Kyi, the de-facto leader of the country has come under increasing pressure to act from the global community in recent weeks. The process of giving them citizenship marked the culmination of a project aimed at determining the identity of a little over one million Rohingya whose claims to nationality had been rejected in the past. Despite those efforts, China's Belt and Road project appears more attractive to Naypyidaw, which is in talks to buy electricity from China, Reuters reported last month. Republican Sen. John McCain urged Suu Kyi - who spent almost 15 years under house arrest - to condemn atrocities Rohingya have suffered at the hands of the same military that long oppressed her. But the violence that the Annan commission warned of has already begun.

Nobel Peace Prize victor Shirin Ebadi has accused Suu Kyi of having "turned her back on democracy once she came to power" and said the Burmese leader has failed to live up to the prize's ideals.

Further, the military government backed by Aung San Suu Kyi has been denying provisions to the Rohingya in Arakan state, including the 120,000-plus who have been in camps for Internally displaced persons since 2012.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said the estimated number of Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh since violence erupted in Myanmar on August 25 had risen from 164,000 on Thursday, after aid workers found big groups in border areas.

  • Leroy Wright