Nobel Laureate Chastised for Role in ‘Indefensible’ Genocide
Aung San Suu Kyi refuses to address the genocide of Rohingya Muslims, bringing international condemnation for her complicity.
The former esteemed champion of human rights and current Myanmar leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was severely condemned during last week’s ASEAN summit in Singapore for her failure to address the torture and genocide of Rohingya Muslims. Suu Kyi’s passivity as hundreds of thousands flee Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh out of fear of a targeted genocide has marked a stark fall from grace for the Nobel Laureate.
One of the leaders who strongly criticized her last week was Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The veteran leader accused the Nobel Peace Prize laureate of doing nothing as Myanmar’s de facto leader while the Myanmar military tortured and killed Rohingya Muslims.
“It would seem that Aung San Suu Kyi is trying to defend what is indefensible. They are actually oppressing these people to the point of killing them, mass killing,” Mahathir said.
The 92-year old leader added that Suu Kyi, as a former political prisoner, should have understood more about the suffering of Rohingya Muslims who are often dubbed the world’s most persecuted minority.
UN: Myanmar’s Military Operated With the Intention of Genocide
A UN report in August claimed that Myanmar’s military operated with the intention of genocide starting in 2017. The brutal operation forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas to flee Myanmar’s Rakhine state to seek refuge in Bangladesh.
The report also suggested that Myanmar’s top military officers be investigated and prosecuted for “grave” human rights violations and crimes against humanity, according to United Nations-appointed investigators.
The Myanmar Authority denied most of the allegations stated in the report. Previously, Suu Kyi said that the civil government under her leadership should not take all the blame for causing the Rohingya crisis because the country’s military plays a vital political role under the Myanmar constitution which was designed by the military in 2008. The constitution gives the military more power than Suu Kyi, who is barred from ever becoming President despite landslide election victories, and grants teh military control of the interior, border and defense ministries.
The New Yorker described Suu Kyi as once the representative of the “power of the powerless” but called her now “powerless in power, taking the falk for the Army’s unrelenting inhumanity in its fight against ethnic rebels on the borderlands, and the Rohingya.”
Others have been more critical of her lack of vocal condemnation of the genocide, as the New Yorker also wrote in 2017:
‘”The Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who won the prize for her advocacy of girls’ education, condemned the “tragic and shameful treatment” of the Rohingya. “I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same.” Addressing a letter to his “dear sister,” the anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu wrote of his “profound sadness” and called on Aung San Suu Kyi to end the military-led operations. “If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep,” he wrote. The Dalai Lama subsequently urged her to find a peaceful solution to the humanitarian crisis, saying that Buddha would have “definitely helped those poor Muslims.”’
Amnesty International Strips Suu Kyi of Her Prestigious Award
One of the world’s most prominent human rights organizations, Amnesty International (AI), officially revoked the Ambassador of Conscience honor given to Suu Kyi. AI said that Suu Kyi had betrayed values she once defended.
AI Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said that Suu Kyi is turning a blind eye to the cruel military operation and the increasing attacks on press freedom in Myanmar.
“[Her] denial of the gravity and scale of the atrocities [against the Rohingya] means there is little prospect of the situation improving,” Naidoo said.
Who Are Rohingya Muslims?
Rohingya Muslims are seen as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities. Despite their long history in Myanmar, the Myanmar government never officially recognized the one million Rohingyas in the Rakhine State of Myanmar as citizens and argue they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
The Yangon administration calls Rohingya “Bengali,” and it repeatedly voices an inaccurate perception that all Rohingyas enter Myanmar illegally from Bangladesh.
According to the Myanmar Citizenship Law in 1982, Rohingyas are not entitled to citizenship, meaning they have limited access to education, employment and healthcare.
Violence erupted in August 2017 when a group of Rohingya militants equipped with Molotov cocktails and clubs attacked 24 police posts and an army base, killing 12 officers. The militant group claimed they attacked to protect their minority from oppression.
The Myanmar military retaliated by killing, torturing and raping Rohingyas and burning their villages, forcing 700,000 to flee Myanmar for Bangladesh.
What’s Next for the Rohingyas?
Rohingya refugees refused to return to Myanmar from Bangladesh, fearing violence upon returning to Rakhine State. The repatriation was supposed to resume on Nov. 15 but was delayed because no refugees wanted to return to Myanmar.
As Reuters reported, Bangladesh initially started the preparation for repatriating around 2,200 Rohingya refugees, but rights organizations raised concern for the refugees’ security and safety upon returning to Myanmar.
Bangladesh has promised not to force anyone to return to Myanmar and asked the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) to make sure any refugees repatriating are ones doing so by their own free-will.