Aung San Suu Kyi is Myanmar’s (Burma) leader, who won a noble peace prize back in 1991 “for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.” This sounds impressive, yet Aung San Suu Kyi has done nothing to help the genocide of the Rohingya people of Myanmar or Burma. Suu Kyi, was a political prisoner of Myanmar for years, but received a twist of fate when the military arranged a free election of a civil-leader in 2015 where she gained her power. After her first release from house arrest in July 1995, she was – after Nelson Mandela – the most important global symbol of defiance against tyranny. In past interviews she heavily stresses the need for non-violence.
As a ‘Civil- Leader’ Aung San Suu Kyi does not control the military and they do not trust her, but her refusal to condemn well-documented military abuses provides the generals with political cover. Political cover just means that the military can continue to do what they want because their leader has not verbally said to end it. Silence is complicity.
Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar military have been accused of wide-scale human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, gang rapes, arson and infanticides. The Rohingya are being both burned alive, and their villages and homes burned down to hide how wide scale the genocide is; amid yet more widespread reports of killing and sexual violence daily. Sadly, the Burmese government dismisses these claims as “exaggerations” while they continue to cut off access to villages, so journalists can only get information based off satellite images, but they only show smoke from villages that were burned down.
To explain it as simply as possible, Buddhist’s makes up 88%–90% of the population, with small minorities of other faiths, including a small minority of Muslims (4%), most of whom are forbidden to vote and denied citizenship. The nation is dominated by its ethnic Burman majority (68%), most of whom are Buddhist. Its complex narratives of ethnic rivalries, deepened by poverty and manipulated over decades by military rulers causing tensions between Buddhist and Muslim communities have led to violence, with nationalist Buddhists often targeting Rohingyas. As of February 2018, The UN is “deeply, deeply saddened” by the confirmed existence of more than five previously unreported mass graves in the Myanmar village of Gu Dar Pyin.
The Rohingya people (including the small minority of Muslim’s in Myanmar) are known as “amongst the world’s least wanted” and one of its “most persecuted minorities.” The Rohingya are deprived of the right to free movement and of higher education. They have been denied Burmese citizenship since the Burmese nationality law was enacted. They are not allowed to travel without official permission and were previously required to sign a commitment not to have more than two children, but that law was not strictly enforced. They are subjected to routine forced labor where typically a Rohingya man will have to give up one day a week to work on military or government projects and one night for sentry duty. The Rohingya have also lost a lot of arable land, which has been confiscated by the military to give to Buddhist settlers from elsewhere in Myanmar.
“It’s been happening since our grandparents’ time. We haven’t had a day of peace. Every night the military would knock on our door and demand that we give them sheep or goats. The police would stop us on the way to market and arrest us for no reason. Just for being Muslim. They’d take us to the police station and make us clean the toilets. If you asked ‘why,’ you’d be beaten. On the night they came to burn our village, we barely survived. The bullets came through our walls all night. My brother was shot in the stomach. I thought any moment would be the end. At first light I put my daughter on my shoulder and started to run. There were pieces of people all over the road. Every time I passed a dead body, I would switch her to the other shoulder.” – Humans of New York
This treatment is only where the problem at hand began. Nearly a million Rohingya have been forced out of Myanmar by these savage Buddhists. Women and children have been bombed, raped, killed. The men have been decapitated and tortured. They have been forced into Bangladesh, but Bangladeshi government says they can not take that many Rohingya people in because they are not citizens, similarly Myanmar turns around and says, “well they’re technically not citizens here either.” The whole situation is a mess. Especially because Suu Kyi won’t even admit a genocide is going on under her power. In a recent interview with BBC news she says “No, it’s not ethnic cleansing. Muslims have been targeted, but Buddhists have been subjected to violence too. There’s fear on both sides.” And she hasn’t said much else.
“It was 2 AM when they came to our village. They set all our houses on fire. There was no time to grab anything. Not even food. All we could do was run. For fifteen days we walked without any food. There were bodies all along the path. Only fear kept us going. We had no energy. People were sitting down to rest and never standing up again. We started eating leaves off the trees. I couldn’t breastfeed anymore. One of my children died on the sixth day. Another died a few days later. Nobody even talked about it. We were too weak. I could barely even cry. We just walked on in silence. When we arrived at the camps, the doctor told me my baby was not going to survive. But by the grace of Allah, she lived.”- Humans of New York
“They came to our house first because it’s closest to the road. We thought they just wanted to talk. We thought they’d ask us some questions, and then they’d leave. So, we walked out to meet them. I smelled smoke as soon as I walked outside. And they started shooting their guns. There was no time to go back. They were shooting so I couldn’t go back. And I couldn’t bring anything with me. I just ran into the forest with my children. And I forgot my baby boy. I left him in the house because I thought we were coming right back. I wanted to save him, but my husband held me down. So, my baby burned in the house. I’d have brought him with me, but I thought we were coming right back.”- Humans of New York
Thankfully on February 22, 2018 Representatives of the Governments of Japan and Myanmar and seven United Nations agencies signed agreements making a total of $20 million to implement several humanitarian and development projects benefitting people of all communities in Rakhine State.
“This partnership demonstrates the commitment of the international community to help find and implement solutions to the situation in Rakhine State,” said Knut Ostby, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim in Myanmar. The seven agencies, IOM, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UN Women and WFP will provide a range of food and development assistance throughout Rakhine State. The participating agencies will integrate their activities – in line with the humanitarian-development-peace nexus – to achieve better results.
“Our immediate concern is provision of humanitarian aid to people in need – irrespective of their religion, ethnicity, gender or citizenship status,” added Ostby. “At the same time, more than 40 percent of people in Rakhine live in poverty and we have to reach them with development assistance to set the State on the path to peace and inclusive growth.”
The United Nations should have taken a stand long before now. The Holocaust Museum has already rescinded the Elie Weisel Award that Suu Kyi won in 2012 for her “failure to act against her country’s persecution of its Rohingya minority,” Thousands of Canadians have called for Aung San Suu Kyi’s honorary Canadian citizenship to be revoked. Suu Kyi has turned her back as hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas are subjected to an ethnic cleansing.
She was once quoted saying “I believe women play the more important part in our world because not only are they entering the professional world, they still remain the pillars of their homes and families. I think only a woman can understand the troubles, the problems, the discrimination that other women must face. So, from this day onwards, until all the people in the world, particularly all the women in the world, are able to achieve their full potential, I hope we will be able to work together closely and in the true spirit of sisterhood.” What sisterhood exactly is she talking about? Not the sisterhood of intersectional feminism. Her words are meaningless; there is no action behind what she has said. Saying she wants the world to reach their full potential is laughable to say the least. As someone who came to power as a voice of the oppressed, she fails to publicly recognize her drastic change in character.
She has denied access to international authorities and investigators making it difficult to accurately grasp the scope of the situation, two reporters have been detained since December of 2017 for allegedly intending “to send important security documents regarding security forces in Rakhine State to foreign agencies abroad,” according to Myanmar’s information ministry. This woman has no right to be the Civil Leader of Myanmar when her civility is watching nearly a million Rohingyas brutally murdered and displaced. I think it’s disgusting for a woman with so much power to hold so much hate and carelessness in her heart towards people of the Muslim faith. She does not deserve to keep her Nobel Peace prize. There is nothing peaceful about her silence. She is complicit to genocide.
To donate to the Rohingya minority, https://www.gofundme.com/houses4rohingya
Written by Taylor Christian