Monday, March 12, 2018 at 11:21 AM

Holocaust Museum Rescinds Aung San Sui Kyi’s Award. Democratic Countries Should Boycott Her Myanmar

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

I was in the vanguard of those denouncing Aung San Sui Kyi, the Nobel Peace Laureate, for her complicity in Myanmar’s genocide against the Rohingyas. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find any Western commentator who did so publicly before I did here:

Nothing demonstrates the extent to which she has been co-opted quite like Suu Kyi’s deafening silence about the ongoing ethnic 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 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…?

(“Obama’s Historic Trip to Myanmar: Too Soon?” The iPINIONS Journal, November 12, 2012)

And, I have denounced her continually since then in commentaries like “Aung San Suu Kyi Becoming Democratic Mascot of Myanmar’s Military Dictatorship,” March 28, 2013, “Buddhists Religiously Cleansing Muslims in Myanmar,” May 13, 2015, and “Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi Courting Military Power at the Expense of Democratic Principles,” September 14, 2015. The last of these includes this instructive juxtaposition:

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It’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 (a.k.a. Burma).

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.

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 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. …

Just 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.

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This is why I was even more heartened when Suu Kyi’s fellow Nobel laureates began condemning her. I duly hailed them in “Even Fellow Nobel Laureates Now Condemning Suu Kyi, the Godmother of Ethnic Cleansing,” September 14, 2017, noting on point that:

It’s an indication of how much goodwill 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.

Except that, if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can rescind Harvey Weinstein’s membership for sexually assaulting women, surely the Nobel Committee can rescind Suu Kyi’s prize for condoning genocide. This, even if there’s no way of forcing her to return the certificate and cash that went along with it.

As it happens, the Nobel Committee could follow the lead the United States Holocaust Museum has just taken in this respect:

The decision by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to rescind its human-rights award to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is sad, and proper.

(The New York Times, March 11, 2018)

The Museum explained its decision to rescind the prestigious Elie Wiesel Award in an open letter. The Times ran it under the headline “‘Never Again,’ Holocaust Museum Tells Burmese Leader.” The significance of this cannot be lost on anyone.

Above all, though, the Museum expressed profound dismay at her unconscionable refusal to condemn, let alone stop, Myanmar’s open and notorious crimes against humanity. It also cited the way this erstwhile personification of democratic values has stood by as members of her ruling party repressed journalists for daring to report on those crimes.

It’s no accident that I cited the Mandela precedent in South Africa for what Suu Kyi should be doing in Myanmar. Because it speaks volumes that she is governing like his Apartheid jailers.

This is why merely rescinding awards and prizes will not do. It is now a categorical imperative for Western democracies to boycott Myanmar the way they boycotted South Africa – complete with shunning Suu Kyi the way they shunned the leaders of Apartheid.

In this respect, world leaders (and her fellow Nobel laureates) should follow the lead rock star Bob Geldof took in September. He denounced her as a “Handmaiden to Genocide.” Then he renounced his Dublin humanitarian award, reasoning that, because she received one too, she rendered it meaningless.

Of course, Suu Kyi can still rely on the support of no less a person than US President Donald J. Trump. After all, he speaks and behaves more like her dictatorial generals than his democratic predecessors.

But, as one who still believes in democratic principles and universal human rights, I cannot commend Geldof enough for his self-sacrificing way of shunning Suu Kyi.

Related commentaries:
Obama historic trip
Buddhist monks
Suu Kyi becoming
Courting totalitarian power
Fellow Nobel laureates
Handmaiden to genocide

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