The Rohingya are a stateless people in Myanmar
Yousafzai called out fellow Nobel laureate and the country's leader Aung San Suu Kyi for not doing enough to help them
The 20-year-old education advocate criticized Suu Kyi, the country’s state councilor and de facto leader, for her silence on the plight of the Rohingya people, who have been fleeing a harsh crackdown by the Myanmar military.
“Over the last several years, I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment. I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same,” Yousafzai wrote. “The world is waiting and the Rohingya Muslims are waiting.”
The Rohingya, a Muslim minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, are considered some of the most persecuted people in the world. Myanmar, also known as Burma, considers them Bangladeshi while neighboring Bangladesh says they’re Burmese, effectively leaving them without a state.
Recent violent clashes in Myanmar have killed hundreds while a mass exodus has seen more than 73,000 flee across the border since August 25, the United Nations said on Sunday.
In Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, there are reports of at least another 30,000 Rohingyas trapped in hilly terrain without basic supplies of food, water or medicine, according to activists.
Rohingya activists say the refugees are stranded between Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships, as they are unable to cross the Naf River into Bangladesh.
Videos provided to CNN by activists show dozens of men, women and children stranded on a mountain, surrounded by dense jungle, living in makeshift shelters made of sticks and sheets.
“The human lives that are most vulnerable must be rescued immediately without delay,” executive director of Burma Human Rights Network, Kyaw Win, said in a statement.
‘The country where they were born’
Yousafzai called for an end to the suffering which she said breaks her heart and for the Myanmar government to recognize the Rohingya population as equal citizens.
“If their home is not Myanmar, where they have lived for generations, then where is it? Rohingya people should be given citizenship in Myanmar, the country where they were born,” she added.
“Other countries, including my own country Pakistan, should follow Bangladesh’s example and give food, shelter and access to education to Rohingya families fleeing violence and terror.”
Human Rights Watch renewed its calls for the Myanmar government to allow independent observers into Rakhine State, after releasing troubling satellite photos from inside the region showing what they claimed were villages burned to the ground.
This is the second time in less than a year that a military crackdown in Rakhine State has led to a mass exodus, the first being sparked after border guards were attacked in October 2016. Then, some 85,000 Rohingya fled across the border, bringing with them horrifying stories of rape, torture and murder inside Rakhine State.
Speaking to the BBC in April, Suu Kyi denied ethnic cleansing was taking place against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority.