Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi avoided discussing with a senior United Nations official reports of Myanmar security forces raping Rohingya women and girls, The Guardian reported on Tuesday. The paper accessed an internal memo of the meeting between Suu Kyi and Pramila Patten, the UN’s special envoy on sexual violence in conflict areas.
“The meeting with the state counsellor was a cordial courtesy call of approximately 45 minutes that was, unfortunately, not substantive in nature,” Patten wrote in a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Patten said that Suu Kyi did not discuss the alleged incidents of rape and instead told her that she would enjoy “a number of good meetings” with senior Myanmar officials. At these meetings, the officials from the military and the civilian government told Patten that reports of atrocities were “exaggerated and fabricated by the international community.”
In November, Patten had said that Myanmar soldiers had systematically targeted and gang-raped Rohingya women during the violence against the Muslim community in August. The UN envoy had said that many women and girls had died because of the assault, and that this sexual violence was one of the reasons for the mass exodus of Rohinygas from Myanmar.
The Human Rights Watch too confirmed in a report published in November that the security forces had committed “widespread rape” of women and girls.
Suu Kyi has faced criticism globally for her response to the persecution of Rohingyas in her country. On December 13, she was stripped of the “Freedom of the City of Dublin” award, and in November the Oxford City Council took away her “Freedom of Oxford” title. The authors of a popular children’s book have said that they are considering removing Myanmar leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner after some parents demanded that “someone suspected of genocide” not be featured in future editions.