Duterte says he told Aung San Suu Kyi: Ignore criticism on human rights

Pia Ranada

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Duterte says he told Aung San Suu Kyi: Ignore criticism on human rights
The Philippine leader says he 'pities' the democracy icon, who now faces criticism for her silence on the persecution of the Rohingya

If Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is to be believed, he said he had shared notes with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi over the verbal beating they both have been getting from human rights advocates.

During a business forum in India on Friday, January 26, Duterte said he was able to talk to Suu Kyi during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit held in New Delhi the previous day.

Suu Kyi, known as a democracy and human rights icon, has disappointed many for her silence over the persecution of Rohingyas in her country.

Duterte commiserated with her.

“These human rights people, you know. Aung San Suu Kyi was with us. I pity her because she seems to be caught in the middle of being a Nobel Prize Winner for peace and there is the ruckus. Now she is heavily criticized,” said Duterte.

He decided to give her some advice.

“She’s been complaining that we’re talking about ‘our country, our own country.’ And I said, do not mind the human rights,” said Duterte.

The controversial Philippine leader would know a thing or two about being criticized for his human rights record.

United Nations officials, former United States president Barack Obama, European lawmakers, former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria, and a slew of Philippine and international human rights groups have criticized him for his bloody drug war.

In the same speech, he had more words to say about the UN.

“United Nations serves no purpose actually, for mankind…With all its inutility, it hasn’t prevented any war, it hasn’t prevented any massacre,” said Duterte.

Suu Kyi, like Duterte, has claimed the global community is being misled by a “huge iceberg of misinformation” about human rights abuses against the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority persecuted in Myanmar for decades.

The Nobel laureate has been criticized by her own fellow Nobel prize winners for her seeming lack of sympathy for the Rohingya.

“It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said.

Some, however, say her silence is a calculated political move not to alienate the powerful military and many people from Myanmar who consider the Rohingya as outcasts in their country.

Interestingly, when Duterte visited Myanmar in March 2017, he handed over to Suu Kyi $300,000 (P15 million) for humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya. – Rappler.com


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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.