June 19, 2018

Suu Kyi has to do more for Rohingya

12 September 2017, 12:47 | Marta Robbins

Nobel laureate urges Aung San Suu Kyi to 'wake up' and act on Rohingya violence

Malaysian writers call for witdrawal of Nobel prize from Suu Kyi over violence against Rohingya

Those of us who worked undercover in Myanmar remember a constant struggle to stay out of the way of the secret policemen and spies.

However, the Norwegian Nobel committee has ruled out rescinding Suu Kyi's prize, saying only her previous work would be taken into account rather than any subsequent actions.

The world's media related how she had faced down soldiers with their rifles levelled in her direction. But she is the same, like the others.

We listened to her address supporters at the gates of her lakeside villa about the need for tolerance and discipline. I will not go to the extent of supporting the petition for revoking her Nobel Prize, which she once undoubtedly deserved. As the leader of her country, she is complicit.

It was language which Western journalists (including myself), were eager to hear. Myanmar does not grant Rohingyas citizenship as it considers them as immigrants from Bangladesh even though the community has lived in Myanmar for generations. Myanmar's army does not sugarcoat its words; it blatantly states that it is committing clearance, or in other words, genocide.

"No-one told me that I was to be interviewed by a Muslim", Suu Kyi is alleged to have said, according to the petition. A Bangladeshi judge wants her to be tried for crimes against humanity.

- Janelle Saffin is an worldwide legal and governance expert, lawyer and teacher, human rights advocate, and former MP in the Australian Parliament.

Her father, Aung San, was a staunch Burmese nationalist who led the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League (AFPFL) against Japanese occupation and fought with the British to liberate Burma in 1945.

In October past year, when the unrest happened in Myanmar's Rakhine state, and thousands of Rohingya were forced to leave their homeland and fled to neighbouring countries, I still kept my belief in Aung San Suu Kyi. "I am angry with her - very angry".

They accuse her of standing by as the crackdown on militants has expanded into a brutal ethnic cleansing of the entire Rohingya population in Myanmar.

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She has already proved that if one has an unwavering resolve and is geared up to face any difficulty to achieve their goals - sooner or later, the results will be positive.

A few stalls down, Thet Mhoo Ko Ko, 25, who helps run his family's eyeglasses shop, said the blame over the Rohingya crisis lies more with the military.

Media captionWatch: Who are the Rohingya?

By the standards that she had once symbolised, the treatment of this ethnic minority has been grotesque.

While her government has moved to tackle hate speech by Buddhist extremists, she has not made the kind of public gestures in support of Muslims made by her hero Mahatma Gandhi and his colleague Jawaharlal Nehru during the violence of India's partition.

The memory of Nehru wading into Hindu mobs to prevent sectarian violence is one of the 20th Century's defining acts of personal courage.

It's not that Ms Suu Kyi is organising the killings (she does not control the military), or that they are entirely one-sided. Still, there are some who have excused and chosen to interpret her silence on the Rohingya's suffering as neutral. The report also recommends steps toward fostering reconciliation between all in Rakhine state, to address the deep-seated, centuries-old mistrust that can not easily be waged away.

Minister of State for Home ministry Kiren Rijiju, reiterating the Centre's line of the argument, has claimed on August 9 that Rohingya refugees are prone to being recruited by terrorist organisations. And that too right under the nose of San Suu Kyi, the vanguard of peace, who in her capacity as state counselor, is charged with the duty of overseeing Myanmar's military. "It seems to me that she has convinced herself that to be a successful politician, she has to give up being a moral icon".

When asked whether or not his government would take back Canada's special recognition of Suu Kyi on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skirted the question by calling the humanitarian situation "terrible" and "extremely preoccupying".

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