March 24, 2018

DPM: Rights activist Suu Kyi should take a stand

12 September 2017, 12:12 | Rufus Hill

DPM: Rights activist Suu Kyi should take a stand

Rohingya crisis fans communal tensions across Myanmar

She said she believes Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate is respected among many and can use her influence to end this hostility. Burma was tense with mass demonstrations for democracy after General Ne Win had stepped down in August.

The point of this proposal to the Norwegian Nobel Committee is not to single out Aung San Suu Kyi or any other past recipients of the prize for reprimand or rescinding of the prize but to rethink the very logic of the recognition in a manner that makes it more engaging, responsible, and enduring.

An online petition calling for her to be stripped of her Nobel Prize has received almost 412,000 signatures online.

We did not calculate that the stubbornness which refused to concede to the military junta might, if she came to power, prove equally forceful when confronted with foreign criticism. In 1995 she met her husband in Myanmar for the last time, four years before his death from cancer. His quote sadly now seems to fit Aung San Suu Kyi like a glove. She urged them to expose the truth.

Still, some observers insist that Suu Kyi has tried to hold back the Tatmadaw. However, as the undisputed NLD leader, she is Myanmar's de facto leader. The occasion was her receiving of the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1991 while under house arrest as Myanmar's most famous dissident.

"To deny their rightful place in Myanmar only weakens the democratic vision Aung San Suu Kyi has fought so hard for throughout her life", continued the statement. "The prize we were working for was a free, secure and just society where our people might be able to realise their full potential". She became the darling of the West, known as The Lady, the underdog we loved to support, and with whom we could relate to that much more because she had read philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University and married an English academic.

Since a similar attack on border posts in October 2016, also linked to ARSA, northern Rakhine has witnessed incremental militarisation undertaken by state authorities in response to multiple instances of killings of ethnic non-Muslims by suspected Rohingya extremists. After Independence, Rohingyas have agitated from time to time seeking the right to self-determination for carving out an independent state. A lot of them are poor and illiterate labourers. After independence Rohingyas who could prove residence for at least two generations were allowed to apply for a form of ID card. We have to take care of everybody who is in our country, whether or not they are our citizens. They had long suffered discrimination, including movement restrictions, withholding of land rights and exclusion from education and public service. Deemed stateless, they have been dealt with violence by the Myanmar military. By 2013 Human Rights Watch was already protesting ethnic cleansing and large numbers had fled to Bangladesh.

The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, urged support for the Rohingya. He called Suu Kyi out by name, as well as Trudeau for failing to stop the violence.

Human Rights Watch said satellite images taken last Saturday showed hundreds of burned buildings in Maungdaw, a district capital in Rakhine State, in areas primarily inhabited by Rohingya. She claimed to welcome its initial recommendations but made no move to implement them. We only have one world and that is the world in which we live and the urgent task at hand is to see how we can save this world against its own evils with any means at our disposal.

Still, there are some who have excused and chosen to interpret Aung San Suu Kyi's silence on the Rohingya's suffering, as neutral. Yet today, Ms Suu Kyi, as the effective leader of Myanmar, is chief apologist for this ethnic cleansing as the country oppresses the darker-skinned Rohingya, and denounces them as terrorists and illegal immigrants. "And, in fact, the current crisis was spurred by an attack by a militant group acting in the name of the Rohingya".

And Suu Kyi has chosen to remain silent on it all.

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