There have been widespread concerns over rampant human rights abuse in Myanmar during the past several months pertaining to the treatment of ethnic Rohingya Muslims by the country's military. But, can the Southeast Asian nation's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who is officially the state counsellor, be charged with crimes against humanity? At least, one UN special rapporteur for Myanmar thinks so.
Perhaps as a culmination of increasing criticism against Suu Kyi's handling of the entire crisis, the UN delegate Yanghee Lee said the Nobel peace laureate should directly be held responsible for what is happening in the country.
Lee, a professor at South Korea's Sungkyunkwan University who is now barred from entering Myanmar because of her criticisms, told Channel 4 that the prevailing situation in the violence-ravaged areas of Myanmar bears the "hallmarks of a genocide".
When asked whether Suu Kyi, once known globally as the champion of democracy, could be tried for crimes against humanity or genocide, Lee responded: "Absolutely... I'm afraid so. [Suu Kyi] can't be not accountable. Complicity is also a part of accountability.
"She was never a goddess of human rights... she is a politician," added Lee, a leading child rights expert who has been holding the UN post since 2014.
This has been one of the strongest condemnations against the Myanmar leader coming particularly from someone from the global body of the UN.
"I think that she's either denying or she is really far removed. She has been a role model for everyone, me included. It is really disappointing," added Lee just as when there have been calls made in the outside world to refer cases against Myanmar's leaders to the International Criminal Court.
Lee went on to say that Suu Kyi should be accused of "complicity, or neglecting to do anything about it, or halting this [genocide]".
Lee is the latest high-profile figure to turn her guns on Suu Kyi, who has been witnessing many of her friends from the international community to turn into foes or critics. She has also been stripped off many prestigious titles in recent months as a mark of condemnation over her alleged failure to contain the situation.
Following decades-long junta rule in Myanmar, formerly Burma, Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), rode to a historic electoral win in 2015 when the beleaguered Southeast Asian nation was making a gradual transition to democracy, crawling out of the clutches of military rule. That was the first time the country held free and fair elections in more than quarter of a century.
However, months after she came to power, Suu Kyi faced mounting criticism over her handling of the Rohingya crisis. Since August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the country from the northern Rakhine state to mostly Bangladesh to escape a crackdown by Myanmar's forces. The military faces a barrage of accusations including mass killings and sexual assaults carried out against Rohingya Muslims.
The ethnic Rohingyas, who have been persecuted in a systematic manner for the past few years, are often dubbed as a stateless minority and are branded illegal immigrants in the Buddhist-majority country.