CAIRO - Burma's opposition leader and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi opened a two-week visit to the United States on Tuesday, September 18, with the persecution of Bengali-ethnic Muslims, known as Rohingya, overshadowing her tour.
I am one of the internal refugees of your country living in a muddy and miserable camp of Sittwe, a displaced Rohingya Muslim says in an open letter cited by Eurasia Review.
The World knows the reason of being refugees in Arakan State.
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee their homes after ethnic violence rocked the western state of Rakhine in July after the killing of ten Muslims in an attack by Buddhist vigilantes on their bus.
The attack came following the rape and killing of a Buddhist woman, for which three Rohingyas were sentenced to death.
Human rights groups have accused Burmese police and troops of disproportionate use of force and arrests of Rohingyas in the wake of the riots.
Human Rights Watch has accused Burmese security forces of targeting Rohingya Muslims with killing, rape and arrest following the unrest.
I attached you some statements of Rohingya raped victims, the displaced Muslim writes in his letter.
I was informed 500 rape cases. I have hundreds of photo and video evidences which are against human rights. If you want I can send all those evidences to you.
Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for championing democracy in opposition to a ruthless military junta that held her under house arrest for years, arrived in the US on a two-week visit on Tuesday.
The democracy icon will be feted by the US Congress, human rights groups and Washington think tanks.
She will also visit the large emigre community from her country in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and make a series of public speeches from New York to California.
But her visit is expected to be overshadowed by the ongoing persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Burma (Myanmar).
Sui Kyi has been under fire over being silent on the persecution on the sizable Muslim minority.
When asked during her recent visit to Europe, where she was feted as heroine of democracy, whether Muslim Rohingyas are citizens of Myanmar, Suu Kyi said she did not know.
"When you talk about the Rohingya, we are not quite sure whom you are talking about," she said.
"There's some who say those people who claim to be Rohingyas are not the ones who are actually native to Burma but have just come over recently from Bangladesh."
The displaced Muslim lamented the democracy icon's silence on the suffering of the Rohingyas.
When you said I don't know Rohingya I was so shocked, the open letter says.
How could a Noble Prize Winner deny a reality? the writer asks. Could you please let us know that based on what documents did you dare to deny Rohingya?
If you think that Rohingya history is not reliable, and then you could better form a commission of World historians who could easily decide authenticity of Rohingya history, you shouldn't deny its existence.
The letter says many Rohingya Muslims have learnt from Sui Kyi's struggle for democracy in Burma.
You encouraged us not to be fear but why do you have fear now, the writer says.
Isn't it for losing power by getting vote in the next election? Or could you please tell us the reason for denial of reality?
The writer says that the Burmese democracy icon wrote very beautifully about human rights.
Don't you feel that Rohingya are also human being like you?
Described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities, Rohingya Muslims are facing a catalogue of discrimination in their homeland.
They have been denied citizenship rights since an amendment to the citizenship laws in 1982 and are treated as illegal immigrants in their own home.The Burmese government as well as the Buddhist majority refuse to recognize the term "Rohingya", referring to them as "Bengalis".