The Grotesqueness of Her Excellency Daw

While declaring the Nobel Peace prize in 1991, the Noble committee in its glorious citation praised the recipient for the ‘non-violent struggle for democracy and human right‘ and ‘the desired conciliation between the sharply divided regions and ethnic groups in her country’.

The recipient was none other than Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar (then called Burma) while she was under house arrest since 1989.

If any of the Nobel Peace prize committee members is alive today, he/she would be chewing on the committee’s very words, knowing well that the once-admired peace activist in Burma has now become an insensitive and creepy abettor of crimes against humanity in her own country – against the ethnic Rohingyas.

Rohingyas are migrants of Bangladeshi descent who have called Myanmar their home, for decades. During the past 5 years, they have been subjected to systemic attacks, abuse and arbitrary arrests by the Burmese security forces. The number of Rohingya Muslims displaced after fighting with Myanmar’s majority Buddhists in 2012 – monks included – is estimated to be about 125,000.

aung san suu kyi.
Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo: video screenshot.

When one thinks of Buddhism, austere modesty, exemplary tolerance and inner peace come to mind. For that reason, when the Buddhist monk Dalai Lama speaks against injustice and oppression, people listen with respect.

So isn’t it ironic that this icon of peace hasn’t uttered a single word of wisdom or compassion about what has been happening to the Rohingya community in the Rakhine province – both under the brutal siege of Burmese military until recently and now under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi?

Aung San Suu Kyi swept to power by populist votes and became the de facto democratic leader of Myanmar a year ago. A remarkable journey for a woman in one of the most oppressive regimes in the world! Being married to a British citizen, she was constitutionally barred from Myanmar’s presidency. Nevertheless, she holds the post of foreign minister and an especially created title of state counselor, though it is no secret as to who is the real ringleader of the day-to-day political circus in Rangoon.

The same Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who suffered unspeakable miseries at the hands of her own people for two decades, has now opted to remain quiet on this thorny issue. She also declined to offer support for Rohingyas. When asked whether they should be regarded as Burmese citizens, her coy answer is: ‘I do not know’. As a very savvy politician, she is right; she cannot take any political risk by defending the rights of oppressed minorities. In response to the concerns raised by the UN, a Myanmar representative blatantly said, ‘there is no such group as Rohingya in Myanmar’.

Her hubristic ignorance towards the plight of Myanmar’s oppressed Rohingya minority, during her freed years and political climb has exposed the real ‘Aung San Suu Kyi’ to the world. Her continued silence on this subject has vexed advocates of human rights all over the world. It has threatened her credibility as a true leader of a free democratic country. Her humanistic legacy once recognized and admired by the United Nations and Nobel Foundation for Peace is now questionable. At the least, she should be stripped of her Nobel honor.

To make its intentions of ethnic cleansing clear, her government had the temerity to ask the US ambassador to Myanmar to not even use the term ‘Rohingya’, but to call them simply ‘Bengalis’ – the decendents of Bangladeshi migrants who have lived in Rakhine province for several decades. Ironically, a person who herself was persecuted by the ruthless Army junta and was denied minimum human decency for decades, has now become an heir-apparent of persecution of minorities in her country.

What is more pathetic is that someone whose name has been synonymous with human rights for the past twenty-five years and, who has exhibited unflinching courage and unwavering defiance in the face of isolation and ostracism, has now succumbed to the utterly unacceptable policy of the very military junta she managed to defeat. It is appalling that even the United States was blind-sided in according this beast with honors such as the US Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest national award to a civilian.

A top UN official recently observed, ‘crimes against humanity are being committed by the military and police against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority who are subject to horrific torture.’ As a result of this, she was not given free access to the conflict area in Myanmar, nor did Aung San Suu Kyi grant her an interview, stating that the allegations were ‘exaggerated’ and that it was an ‘internal’ and not ‘international’ issue.

The American silence on this human tragedy is troubling. It raises serious questions about our commitment to guard and save the oppressed people everywhere on this planet. That we would not stand by in silence and watch Aung San Suu Kyi morph into a dictator, should be made very clear to her, by slapping the sanctions on Myanmar once again.

When the local and global events prick his conscience, the freelancer within his alter ego forces him to lift the pen.