TEKNAF, Bangladesh - Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar living in refugee camps in Bangladesh called on Wednesday for democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi to speak up for them and help end their persecution.
Around 25 people have been killed and a further 41 wounded in five days of unrest between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's Rakhine state, a Myanmar official told AFP on Tuesday. "Our appeal is to the UN, foreign nations, the Myanmar government and especially to Suu Kyi," Mohammad Islam, leader of Rohingya refugees living in Nayapara camp in the Bangladesh border town of Teknaf, told AFP.
"Aung San Suu Kyi hasn't done or said anything for us, yet the Rohingyas including my parents campaigned for her in the 1990 elections. Like most other Burmese people, she is silent about the rights of Rohingya," he added. In her first visit outside Myanmar in 24 years, Suu Kyi last month met thousands of Myanmar refugees now living in a Thai border camp. She promised to try as much as she could to help them return home, vowing not to forget them.
Islam said that while she had highlighted the plight of other Myanmar refugees, mostly Karen people, there had been no words of hope for the Rohingya.
Meanwhile, the United States on Wednesday voiced concern that Bangladesh was turning away Muslims fleeing religious violence in Myanmar and urged the Dhaka government not to send them back.
"We are concerned that Bangladeshi authorities appear to have intercepted and turned back persons fleeing the ethnic and religious violence in Burma," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, using Myanmar's former name.
"We have been urging the government of Bangladesh to respect its international obligations under the relevant refugee conventions and to continue its longstanding policy of non-refoulement of refugees," she said.
Non-refoulement refers to a principle of international law that forbids turning over a victim of persecution to his or her persecutor.