GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi should personally meet members of the Muslim Rohingya minority which is being subjected to ongoing persecution by the military, a group of U.N. human rights experts said on Tuesday.
Myanmar has rejected U.N. accusations that its forces are engaged in ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in response to coordinated attacks by Rohingya insurgents on the security forces on Aug. 25.
The military campaign has sent nearly 430,000 refugees fleeing to Bangladesh, the group of seven U.N. officials said.
They include the special rapporteurs on human rights in Myanmar, on minority issues and on racism.
"We call on Aung San Suu Kyi to meet the Rohingya personally," the officials said in a statement.
They said the implementation of promises by Suu Kyi to address the crisis, including that perpetrators would be held accountable, would amount to an "empty gesture" since so many Rohingya had fled.
Suu Kyi is Nobel Peace prize winner whose government came to power last year in a transition from nearly 50 years of harsh military rule. She has denounced any rights violations but international pressure on her is mounting and there are calls for her Nobel prize to be withdrawn.
Suu Kyi has little if any control over the security forces under a military-drafted constitution that also bars her from the presidency and gives the military veto power over political reform.
The 1.1 million Rohingya in Buddhist majority Myanmar are denied citizenship and classified as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, despite claiming roots in the region that go back centuries, with communities marginalized and occasionally subjected to communal violence.