Aung Sang Suu Kyi: Not so Nobel!

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By: Nasir Ahmad Dar

Amnesty International recently striped Aung Sang Suu Kyi of the highest honor saying it was “profoundly dismayed” at her failure to acknowledge the full scale atrocities against the Rohingya people. This is one of the many international accolades that she received for her struggle against the mighty military regime in her country. However she has been asked to return many of such accolades. Among all the awards and accolades she has accumulated she The Nobel Prize for Peace that she won still remains at the top of the list. Is it time to strip off her Nobel Prize as well? Here is the answer.

Everyone loved Aung Sang Suu Kyi when she was a political prisoner by a brutal military dictatorship. Now she is the defacto leader of democratic Myanmar also known as Burma and has been able to capture hearts of the leaders across the globe. United States of America recently removed a ray of sanctions off her south east asian nation. So with such an esteemed Nobel Peace Laureate now in charge things are surely looking up for the people of Myanmar. Right?

Well! Not all of them. Certainly not the Rohingya Muslims living in that country. According to UNHCR the Rohingya Muslims are victims of “ethnic cleansing”. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum calls it “genocide” in Myanmar. For years Rohingya Muslims have basically lived as an underclass most of them stateless. They have been terrorized by groups of violent Buddhists who label them as illegal Bengali immigrants and more than 120000 of them have been forced into camps. The government doesn’t even recognize the name “Rohingya”. But do you know who else doesn’t recognize the Rohingyas? That’s right! Aung San Suu Kyi. Not only was she accused of cowardice for refusing to call them by their name and criticized by Dalai Lama among other but she since demanded that the US government not to use the name Rohingya either. And in a remarkable 2013 interview with BBC’s Mishal Hussain she refused to condemn the systematic violence against Rohingya. That same violence that UN special reports claimed could amount to ‘crimes against humanity’.

“I know Muslims have been targeted but also Buddhists have been subjected to violence, there is fear on the both sides”, Aung San Suu Kyi said in the same interview.

Both sides? Well last time I checked it wasn’t Burmese Buddhists who were being confined to camps where they were slowly succumbing to starvation, despair and disease. Also it wasn’t Buddhists who were raped by soldiers on gun point amid crackdown on militants. Incidentally it was later reported that Suu Kyi left that BBC interview muttering “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim”. This single line muttered by her should be enough to make all of her awards obsolete.

The defenders of Suu Kyi argue that her hands are tied by an all powerful military elite and they also point at the new commission set up by her government headed by the former United Nations General Secretary Kofi Anan for ending the violence and promoting peace. But here is a thing. Some local politicians are already refusing to cooperate and while Kofi Anan can give recommendations his commission has no power to enforce those recommendations.

As part of her struggle against her country’s military rulers Aung Sang Suu Kyi spent 15 years in jail. 15 years waiting for justice. Now when she in power how many years will she make Rohingyas wait for justice?

So a woman who is loved for her courage and struggle against military dictatorship across the globe deserves all the respect and awards she received. But once she became the head of her state everything has changed since then. She seems to be a changed leader with biased views over her citizens. Her stance on Muslims especially Rohingyas certainly has caught the eye of international media and she has since been criticized a lot. A leader who sponsors genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity certainly doesn’t deserve any accolades. So it is high time for Nobel Prize committee to strip her off the Nobel Prize that she received for her struggle for justice. And now is the time when all the major powers should put more severe sanctions on her country just to enforce her to act wisely and with justice to Rohingyas.

The writer is a civil services aspirant and can be mailed for response, queries and suggestions at [email protected]

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