Ignore rights critics, Duterte tells State Counsellor

Kamran Reza Chowdhury  BenarNews

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he advised Nobel Peace Prize victor, Aung San Suu Kyi, to ignore criticisms from human rights organizations as he continued to lambast critics of his drug war. "I think she's developed a classic bubble". We're all former friends.

Officials reacted by accusing Richardson of having his own agenda.

An advisory board chaired by former Thai foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai has lashed out at the recent resignation of United States member Bill Richardson, saying his accusation that the board was "whitewashing" or "cheerleading" Aung San Suu Kyi over the Rohingya crisis completely lacked legitimacy.

Richardson went on to say that he was "taken aback by the vigor with which the media, the United Nations, human rights groups and in general the global community were disparaged", as the panel held meetings with Myanmar officials during the past three days.

Who are the Rohingya and why are they fleeing?

The advisory board, established with five foreign and five domestic experts in December previous year, is to provide necessary advice for the effective implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Urging understanding instead of blame, Zaw Htay said the issue of the arrests was beyond Richardson's mandate and he should not have brought it up at his meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi. "There's a long history of the establishment of commissions that essentially serve to whitewash human rights violations in Rakhine state", said Matthew Smith, co-founder of the Thailand-based Fortify Rights.

"It appears that the Board is likely to become a cheerleading squad for government policy as opposed to proposing genuine policy changes that are desperately needed to assure peace, stability, and development in Rakhine State".

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"Some 58 percent of the refugees are children, many of whom are still traumatized by their experiences of violence", said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth on Wednesday, speaking from the Kutapalong refugee camp in southern Bangladesh. "Much of the hatred and discrimination against the Rohingya population has been cultivated over many years", said Smith.

Aung San Suu Kyi's tepid response to the crisis and failure to openly rebuke the military has punctured her reputation as a rights icon.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled persecution by Myanmar's military and attacks by Buddhist mobs into Bangladesh.

Many are reluctant to return.

"She was upset when I said there should be an investigation of the mass-graves issue, that they had to increase their worldwide support for the treatment of the Rohingyas, the bad refugee crisis".

Richardson's statement and personal attack on Suu Kyi and himself are groundless, Surakiart said.

"And she exploded", he said on Friday.

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