Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 8:08 AM

Rock Stars Geldof and Bono Damn Myanmar’s Suu Kyi as ‘Handmaiden to Genocide’

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

A few months ago, I damned Aung San Suu Kyi as the ‘godmother of ethnic cleansing.” I did not think then that anyone could damn her more. I was wrong.

But I suppose it should come as no surprise that two acclaimed song writers have found more damning words:

The Irish musicians Bob Geldof and Bono, as well as the other members of rock band U2, have attacked Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, accusing her of complicity in the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people in the country.

Geldof announced that he on Monday would hand back his Freedom of the City of Dublin because the award is also held by Suu Kyi.

In a strongly worded statement, the Live Aid founder dubbed the Burmese Nobel Peace laureate a ‘handmaiden to genocide’ and said her association with the Irish capital ‘shames us all.’

(Daily Beast, November 13, 2017)

All the same, I hope it’s not gloating to note that I had the political consciousness and foresight to damn Suu Kyi four years ago for what Geldof and Bono are finally damning her today.

In fact, I have written many commentaries decrying her fall from Nobel Peace laureate to … handmaiden to genocide. They range from “Even Fellow Nobel Laureates Now Condemning Myanmar’s Suu Kyi, the Godmother of Ethnic Cleansing,” September 14, 2017, to “Obama’s Historic Trip to Myanmar: Too Soon?” November 12, 2012. The latter includes the following excerpt, which provoked my initial dismay and indignation.


The only meaningful step [military dictator] 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…?


That said, President Trump returned last night from his 5-country, 12-day visit to Asia. He would want you to think that it was not just the longest but the most successful foreign trip any leader has ever undertaken in the history of the world.

Except that, as I posited in “Trump Congratulates China for Raping US,” November 9, 2017, he would be hard-pressed to cite any real success. Granted, Xi threw him a bone by releasing three knuckleheads from the UCLA Basketball team who were caught shoplifting during a concurrent goodwill visit. But the measure of his fake success is limited to the extravagant ways authoritarian leaders stroked his ego … to make him feel like one of them.

More to the point, critics across the political spectrum bemoan that the idle flattery they lavished on him induced the preternaturally narcissistic Trump to overlook their appalling human rights record. They contend that any other US president would have leveled unbridled criticism, especially against the likes of Xi of China, Duterte of the Philippines, and Suu Kyi of Myanmar. They are wrong.

In fact, US history is replete with US presidents visiting authoritarian countries. And, far from leveling criticisms, they invariably propped up or kowtowed to a rogue’s gallery of US-friendly dictators – from African kleptomaniacs to Arab potentates. And they did this even without the ego-stroking inducement of idle flattery.

A case in point is the historic visit none other than Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, made to Myanmar. The following excerpt – from the commentary cited above – attests to the cynical note I sounded about the way he blithely overlooked its appalling human rights record, which is compelling so many to damn Suu Kyi.


I warned that her (personal and political) liberation would do little to facilitate democratic reform in Myanmar:

What’s more, Thein Sein has shrewdly used Suu Kyi to curry favor with Western leaders/donors for whom the international celebrity she now enjoys is a political aphrodisiac. Obama, duly seduced, brought along $170 million in financial aid.

Nonetheless, he rationalized his visit by claiming that it is not an endorsement of the government of Myanmar but an acknowledgement of the democratic path the country is now on (which will come as news to the hundreds of political dissidents still withering away in prison).

Ironically, his rationalization for awarding Myanmar his presidential imprimatur smacks of that which the Nobel committee proffered for awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009; namely, not for brokering any peace, but for the potential he had for doing so. The oppressed people of the world, especially the Rohingyas and Palestinians, are still waiting for him to realize his Nobel potential.


Alas, Obama never realized that potential as president – for all kinds of perennial geopolitical reasons. But there’s no excusing his failure – as private citizen – to join Geldof and Bono in the chorus of famous people now damning Suu Kyi.

Related commentaries:
Even fellow nobel
Trump congratulates Russia
Bob Geldof

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