Monday, September 14, 2015 at 10:01 AM

Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi Courting Totalitarian Power at the Expense of Democratic Principles

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 9.23.41 AMIt’s arguable that Nelson Mandela of South Africa was the only political leader who commanded more universal admiration and respect over the past 50 years than Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar.

Of course, they seemed bonded by an uncompromising commitment to democratic principles, which they honored by spending 27 and 15 years as political prisoners, respectively.

Except that, after talking the talk, Mandela began walking the walk from the day he was finally released in 1990. By contrast, Suu Kyi seemed to be walking pursuant to a Faustian bargain with her military jailers from the day she was finally released in 2010.

In fact, so much so that in “Obama’s Historic Trip to Myanmar: Too Soon?” November 12, 2012 – I questioned President Obama’s decision to join the endless procession of world leaders making pilgrimages to her home to bask in the glow of her political halo.


aung-san-suu-kyi-avec-personnalites-influentes-1Nothing demonstrates the extent to which she has been co-opted quite like Suu Kyi’s deafening silence about the ongoing religious cleansing of minority Muslims by majority Buddhists. Especially given that the UN has called Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims ‘the world’s most persecuted people.’

Yet when challenged to explain her silence, the Buddhist Suu Kyi demurred, saying self-righteously that she was not taking sides to preserve her impartiality to help them reconcile. But just imagine how much worse the religious cleansing of minority Muslims by majority Hindus in India would have been if the Hindu Gandhi had not been so vocal in condemning it?


Sure enough, Suu Kyi soon vindicated my concerns about her commitment to democratic principles when she made quite a show of sitting with the military leaders she once defied, instead of standing with the people who were still being oppressed.

I wonder what my critics have to say about viral pictures of Suu Kyi sitting quite comfortably yesterday as a solitary figure among hundreds of military men as they presided over the hallmark of all dictatorships, the annual military parade. For there can be no denying that these pictures provide clear vindication of my informed cynicism.

(“Aung San Suu Kyi Becoming Democratic Mascot of Myanmar’s Military Dictatorship,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 28, 2013)

28myanmar_span-articleLargeMore to the point, I decried the conspiracy of silence in the Western media as Suu Kyi and her military cohorts sat by as Buddhist monks began religiously cleansing Myanmar of Muslims:

I continue to hope against hope that the klieg light of media coverage will finally shine on Myanmar’s unfolding genocide…

A little more media coverage of their plight would force Myanmar’s military leaders to act – if only to prevent media images of Rohingya fleeing religious oppression from undermining media images of tourist sites, which are intended to entice foreigners to visit….

(“Buddhists Religiously Cleansing Myanmar of Muslims,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 13, 2015)

This is why I am so heartened that the BBC is finally beginning to echo the questions I raised years ago about Suu Kyi’s commitment to democratic principles:

There was a time when Aung San Suu Kyi was seen as Asia’s Nelson Mandela. To her more ardent fans, she was more than that. An icon, almost a saint. So why is the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s political party excluding Muslims from its list of candidates for November’s general election?

(BBC, September 8, 2015)

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 9.31.27 AMJust imagine how disheartening it would’ve been if Mandela began preparing South Africa for its first democratic elections by presiding over the ethnic cleansing of Whites – not just from his African National Congress party, but from the entire country.

Alas, Western powers remain all too willing to indulge Suu Kyi’s betrayal of the democratic principles she once championed. Nothing demonstrates this quite like Washington denouncing Myanmar’s generals for executing a putsch within their ruling party, while uttering nary a word about Suu Kyi purging Muslims from her opposition party:

The recent unseating of the chief of Myanmar’s ruling party had a ‘chilling effect’ on the political climate in the Southeast Asian country and was a reminder of the ‘bad old days’ of military dictatorship, a senior U.S. diplomat has said…

‘The government and the ruling party have to act in a way that reinforces, not undermines, public confidence in the government’s commitment to democratic processes,’ he added.

(The Sydney Morning Herald, September 12, 2015)

This, of course, makes about as much sense as denouncing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for shaking up his ruling party, while uttering nary a word about Syrian opposition parties enforcing ISIS-style Sharia laws among their ranks.

Unfortunately, Western powers, led by the hopelessly compromised United States, will never learn….

Related commentaries:
Buddhists religiously cleansing

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