Several Nobel Peace Prize winners on Thursday called for an end to the persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, describing it as “nothing less than genocide,” and appealed for international help for them in Rakhine state.
The appeal came at the end of a three-day conference in the Norwegian capital where participants witnessed video addresses from Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including from South Africa’s retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi and former East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta.
“What Rohingyas are facing is a textbook case of genocide in which an entire indigenous community is being systematically wiped out by the Burmese government,” the final statement said.
Held at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, the conference urged the international community “to take all possible measures to pressure” the Myanmar government to “immediately end its policies and practices of genocide.”
Philanthropist George Soros, who escaped Nazi-occupied Hungary, said that there were “alarming” parallels between the plight of the Rohingya and the Nazi genocide.
Pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi hadn’t been invited to the event, organized by the Norwegian Burma Committee. During her 15 years under house arrest, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate won admiration for her fiery speeches and scathing criticism of the military regime that ruled Myanmar, or Burma, at the time. Her critics note she is carefully choosing her battles, in part because she has presidential ambitions.
In recent weeks, thousands of Rohingya have fled persecution and landed on the shores of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, often abandoned by human traffickers or freed after their families paid ransoms. There are approximately 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims.