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Myanmar / UN - Appeal against choice of Myanmar leader Suu Kyi to head anti-discrimination campaign

December 8, 2013

UNAIDS appoints Aung San Suu Kyi as Zero Discrimination Global Advocate


1. Action Required
2. Summary
3. Background
4. Sample Letter

1. Action Required

Please write to UNAIDS and express your concern about choosing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Mynamar opposition leader as UNAIDS Global Advocate for Zero Discrimination heading the ‘zero discrimination’ campaign in light of her lack of concern for the extreme suffering – include hate based violent expulsion and exclusion - of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

2. Summary

UNAIDS have chosen Myanmar opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to front a campaign against discrimination when she has failed to address violent hatred against Rohingya in particular and Muslims in general in Myanmar. 

3. Background

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, being an influential leader of Myanmar’s National League of Democracy, was sadly heard in an interview playing down the horrific atrocities suffered by the Rohingya community. 

She was recently chosen as UNAIDS Global Advocate to front a ‘zerodiscrimination’ campaign under the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and was recorded as saying, “I believe in a world where everyone can flower and blossom. We can all make a difference by reaching out and letting people lead a life of dignity irrespective of who they are,” said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. “I invite everyone to Open up, Reach out and end discrimination.”

Her above-mentioned statement is in sharp contrast to her unconcerned attitude towards the plight of the Rohingya minority which was made apparent in the recent interview. She avoided direct condemnation of the Rohingya persecution and tried changing the subject to avoid certain controversial questions. In one response she stated, 

“Yes, Muslims have been targeted, but also Buddhists have been subjected to violence. But there’s fear on both sides and this is what is leading to all these troubles and we would like the world to understand: that the reaction of the Buddhists is also based on fear.”

When asked to accept that 140,000 Muslims that have been displaced because of persecution, she generalized and avoided answering the question by stating, “I think there are many, many Buddhists who have also left the country for various reasons. This is a result of our sufferings under a dictatorial regime.”

Her words of condemnation were so general they were empty of any empathy or understanding of the intensity of the Rohingya suffering. When asked “Do you condemn the anti-Muslim violence?” Suu Kyi replied, “I condemn any movement that is based on hatred and extremism.”

Her equivocal attitude towards the mass-scale genocidal acts against Muslims in Myanmar in particular the Ronhingya is very shocking and in sharp contrast to the anti-discrimination campaigns she supports and the peace titles she has been awarded.

Please write to UNAIDS and express your concern about their choice of Global Advocate.

4. Sample Letters


Sample letters are given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you send and the reply you received, to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters.


Michel Sidibé
UNAIDS Executive Director
UNAIDS Secretariat
20, Avenue Appia
CH-1211 Geneva 27
Fax: +41 22 791 4187

[Your Name]
[Your address]


Dear Michel Sidibé

Re: Appeal against choosing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to front anti-discrimination campaign

I am deeply concerned about your recent appointment of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as the UNAIDS Global Advocate for the Zero Discrimination campaign.

Ms Suu Kyi’s ambivalence towards the situation of Ronhingya has been interpreted as lack of concern and an apparently indifferent attitude towards the mass displacement and persecution of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

Given her failure to address this issue, I feel her choice as Global Advocate is a very poor one, and I am very disappointed in UNAIDS. UNAIDS has inadvertently endorsed the racist and anti-Muslim sentiment that is rife in Myanmar right now, and I hope you will now use this as an opportunity to either ask Ms. Suu Kyi to make clear statements of support for persecuted minorities in Myanmar and against the violent racism they have been facing.

If she does not, I urge you to revoke her appointment as UNAIDS Global Advocate for the Zero Discrimination campaign as her lack of empathy and absence of immediate action to resolve the plight of her own people proves is at best deeply problematic.

It can do the Zero Discrimination campaign little good to have an advocate who does not condemn discrimination at her own door.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely


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