Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 7:57 AM

Even Fellow Nobel Laureates Now Condemning Myanmar’s Suu Kyi, the Godmother of Ethnic Cleansing

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Government forces and militant Buddhists have been persecuting Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (née Burma) for years.

Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that Rohingyas fleeing for their lives have now created a humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh. In fact, this rivals the notorious crisis which Syrians fleeing for their lives created in Europe.

The first thing Rohingya villagers fleeing Myanmar notice when they get to Bangladesh, apart from the stench of raw sewage from thousands of other refugees lacking access to toilet facilities, is locals trying to sell them bamboo poles [to build their own makeshift huts].

In the past two-and-a-half weeks, an estimated 370,000 people fleeing violence in Myanmar’s eastern state of Rakhine have streamed into the country, creating a humanitarian crisis.

(Financial Times, September 13, 2017)

What is surprising is that it took social media turning the plight of the Rohingyas into a viral cause celebre for so many eminent persons to finally speak out.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who became leader of Burma after 30 years under house arrest for agitating for democracy, has been heavily criticised for failing to address the Rohingya people’s plight. …

She has been condemned by fellow Nobel peace prize laureates [including celebrated child activist Malala Yousafzai]. Desmond Tutu called on Ms Suu Kyi to speak out against the ‘unfolding horror’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Burma, warning: ‘If the political price of your ascension to the highest office is your silence, the price is surely too steep.’

(The London Times, September 9, 2017)

Except that Suu Kyi must have left Tutu and others crestfallen when she responded to their humanitarian appeals by aping Donald Trump.

‘It is a little unreasonable to expect us to solve the issue in 18 months,’ she told the Delhi-based network Asian News International. ‘It goes back to pre-colonial times.’…

On Wednesday a post on Aung San Suu Kyi’s Facebook page blamed ‘terrorists’ for a ‘huge iceberg of misinformation’ about the violence, and made no mention of the Rohingya who had fled.

(London Guardian, September 7, 2017)

It was bad enough that she framed ethnic cleansing on her watch as a legacy of pre-colonial times. But she destroyed what little integrity and credibility she had left when she invoked the spectre of “fake news.”

The pity is that the Trumpian absurdity inherent in her response seemed completely lost on her. But it was not lost on the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein. In fact, it provoked this extraordinary denunciation:

The situation seems a textbook case of ethnic cleansing. …

[Suu Kyi’s government] should stop claiming that the Rohingyas are setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their own villages. This complete denial of reality is doing great damage to the international standing of a Government which, until recently, benefited from immense good will.

(UN News Centre, September 11, 2017)

Actually, it’s an indication of how much good will Suu Kyi has lost that calls to rescind her 1991 peace prize have gone viral. Unfortunately, the Nobel Committee is on record declaring that it has no process or precedent for rescinding prizes.

More to the point, though, this barrage of condemnation is too little, too late for too many Rohingyas.

As it happens, I have standing to dismiss even the revered Archbishop Tutu as a Johnny-come-(too)-lately to this cause. Because I’ve been one of far too few small still voices condemning Suu Kyi and her government for years.

Here, for example, is how I damned her saintly reputation in “Obama’s Historic Trip to Myanmar: Too Soon?” November 12, 2012.


The only meaningful step President Thein Sein has taken towards democracy was to release Suu Kyi in 2010 from nearly 15 years of house arrest.

But he has since co-opted this former ‘democracy icon’ into his political establishment – as leader of the loyal (i.e., powerless) opposition in parliament. Nothing demonstrates the extent to which he has co-opted Suu Kyi quite like her deafening silence while majority Buddhists continue their ethnic cleansing of minority Muslims. This, even in the face of the UN calling Myanmar’s Muslims ‘the world’s most persecuted people.’

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


What’s more, my weblog is replete with subsequent commentaries decrying Suu Kyi’s willful failure to condemn, let alone stop, this religious/ethnic cleansing. And bear in mind that it was (and is) being perpetrated right under her nose.

I refer you to “Aung San Suu Kyi Becoming Democratic Mascot for Myanmar’s Military Dictatorship,” March 28, 2013, “Buddhists Religiously Cleansing Muslims in Myanmar,” May 13, 2015, “Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s Mandela, Is a Religious Bigot Who Condones Ethnic Cleansing,” March 30, 2016, “Aung San Suu Kyi Lording Over Myanmar’s Crimes Against Humanity,” March 10, 2017, to name just a few.

This is why moral giants like Tutu and the Dalai Lama himself will have to forgive me for having little regard for their belated condemnations. After all, this is the moral equivalence of saying nothing for years as Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad gassed hundreds of thousands of his people, but condemning him as soon as tens of thousands create a humanitarian crisis in Europe after fleeing for their lives.

Meanwhile, Suu Kyi has joined the rogue’s gallery of pariah leaders who dare not attend the Annual UN General Assembly, which convenes in New York City next week. For, like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, she fears other leaders treating her like a skunk at the garden party.

But this attempt to save face
Will just seal her fall from grace.

That said, in “Europe’s Migration Crisis: Sowing Seeds of Unintended but all too Foreseeable Consequences,” September 7, 2015, I pleaded for an EU-led coalition to create and enforce a safe zone in Syria – complete with humanitarian relief. If this had been done, I am convinced there would have been no Syrian humanitarian crisis. Likewise, there would be no Rohingya humanitarian crisis if an India-led (or a China-led) coalition had done the same with respect to Myanmar.

Such humanitarian interventions are the least we should expect of countries that aspire to exercise superpower spheres of influence in an increasingly multi-power world. This, especially given that the UN has proved time and again that it is unwilling, if not unable, to effectuate such interventions.

Related commentaries:
Obama historic trip
Democratic mascot
Buddhist monks
Myanmar’s Mandela
Myanmar Rohingyas Sudan Darfurians
Europe’s migration crisis

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