Aung San Suu Kyi?s silence on Rohingya issue draws global flak

By Mahak Paliwal

Bill Richardson, the ambassador of United States to the UN, is a celebrated name which needs no introduction when it comes to dealings on the global stage. Richardson, also the ex-governor of Mexico and an established congressman, resigned from the advisory board which was constituted with an intention to accommodate peace and stability in the unsettled state of Rakhine located in Myanmar. The committee aimed at implementation of the recommendations expressed by Kofi Annan, the former U.N. Secretary-General, which talked of uplifting the conditions of Rohingya.

The resignation and its aftermath

The press has cited his disappointment and frustration with Aung San Suu Kyi as the reason behind Richardson’s departure from the board. Richardson contended the move to be a “whitewash and a cheerleading operation.” The increased poverty, diseases and the odour of hopelessness in the panel are also being cited as another reason for his departure. “She believes there’s a concerted international effort against Myanmar, and I believe she is wrong,” said Richardson. Further, he added, “She blames all the problems that Myanmar is having on the international media, on the U.N., on human rights groups, on other governments, and I think this is caused by the bubble that is around her, by individuals that are not giving her frank advice.”

Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman in Washington, referred to it as a “cause for concern.” She also insisted upon the repeated requests made by the U.S. to the government of Myanmar for implementing the recommendations of the Annan Commission “as a matter of urgency.” Bill’s resignation from the board has raised serious question marks on the efforts being undertaken at the global stage for curbing the atrocities committed towards Rohingya Muslims, which has been tagged by the United Nations as “textbook ethnic cleansing.” Zaw Htay, said, “(Richardson) talked on a topic outside the agenda of the meetings and went beyond the framework.” She added, “We feel sorry for his resignation due to the misunderstanding.” Zaw also confirmed that the board has met for discussing the “Rakhine Issue”.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s questionable inaction

With the increased desire for democracy, the developing nations often suffer disappointment when the political leaders are not able to meet their expectations. Aung San Suu Kyi, a prominent peacemaker and esteemed activist, has faced the same. Despite her consistent effort to maintain her moral authority, consistency and charisma, the leader has suffered from criticism all around the world. However, the persistent silence of Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has raised doubt and left people amazed. When Rohingya Muslims were located near the coast of Asian seas, anger arose internationally demanding justice for those women, children and men. Voices were raised against the ill-treatment meted to those men, women and children in need. Eminent leaders from all around the world commented on this human tragedy. What surprised everyone was the silence of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of NLD, especially since these sufferers were the indigent people of her own country.

Rohingya Muslims, representing a minority interest, has never received any sympathy from Suu Kyi. The leader has more often chosen to completely ignore the crisis. This might be an attempt by her to safeguard her party position and politics while acting in consonance with the militants’ group. A voice once talked of as the country’s most trusted and leading, Suu Kyi’s comments on the brutalities committed towards the poverty-stricken Rohingya Muslims plainly demonstrate her support for the military. She is also being charged with manipulating foreign investment funds, whose impact would cause exceptional harm to the domestic stakeholders and aggravate the already prevalent issue of land-grabbing. It will also hurt the rural areas leading to economic downfall.

In the past, Aung San Suu Kyi has received tremendous recognition for being courageous, resolving and a bright leader and human rights activist. While Suu Kyi has always been seen as calm and measured, she has now adopted a different path contributing to her leadership in the state. The much-needed power to fight for the benefit of people is now being exercised as arrogance. She refuses to admit any mistake on her or her government’s part and is seem busy imposing accountability on other independent parties for the increasing challenges. The United Nations, the international community, human rights groups and the media is the one who needs to be questioned, according to the leader.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Silence: Electoral maths?

Varied observers, including Nicholas Farrelly, are of the opinion that staying silent on the issue of Rohingya Muslims might be a means to safeguard their electoral interest. Nicholas Farrelly, director of the Australian National University’s Myanmar Research Centre, says, “Aung San Suu Kyi and her strategists are looking at the electoral maths.” The fear amidst them of losing millions of votes from the definite vote banks may serve as a very good reason to stay silent. “They are anxious that the Rohingya could serve as a wedge between Aung San Suu Kyi and tens of millions of Buddhists that she is counting on for votes. It doesn’t help that many NLD members probably support harsh treatment for the Rohingya and feel no special compassion for them,” he added.

Another Nobel Peace laureate, Malala Yousafzai twitted, “Every time I see the news, my heart breaks at the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.” “Other countries, including my own country Pakistan, should follow Bangladesh’s example and give food, shelter and access to education to Rohingya families fleeing violence and terror,” she added. “Over the last several years I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment. I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same,” she said. Similarly, Aung San Suu Kyi has been condemned by 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi, a former Iranian judge and a human rights activist. She accused Aung San Suu Kyi of having “turned her back on democracy once she came to power“. In the recent past, Aung San Suu Kyi has not only received criticism from human rights activists, scholars and researchers, but also various international rights group, who have explicitly condemned the way the Nobel laureate is responding to the prevailing situation. What remains unanswered is whether Suu Kyi will come forward for safeguarding minority interest and risk political suicide, or she will continue to back militant groups and support human rights abuse.

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