Aung San Suu Kyi’s “unavoidable reconciliation”

Here’s Myanmar’s de facto leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, speaking to people whom she wants to convince to invest in her country:

“We do not want our country to be unstable. But we’ve had a long history of disunity within our nation,” Suu Kyi said, addressing senior business representatives at the International Enterprise Singapore Global Conversations roundtable event. “So national reconciliation is unavoidably important for us. It’s not a matter of choice. It’s unavoidable.”

“We have to achieve peace and national reconciliation that our country may be able to progress, and that those who wish to invest in our country may find the right amount of confidence,” she said.

Here’s what’s been happening lately in the country Aung San Suu Kyi leads:

Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims may be victims of crimes against humanity, the United Nation’s rights agency has said, as former UN chief Kofi Annan arrived to the country for a visit that will include a trip to the conflict-ravaged region of Rakhine.

The army has carried out a bloody crackdown in the western state and thousands of the Muslim minority have flooded over the border into Bangladesh this month, making horrifying claims of gang rape, torture and murder at the hands of security forces.

Some 30,000 have fled their homes and analysis of satellite images by Human Rights Watch found that hundreds of buildings in Rohingya villages have been razed.

Myanmar has denied allegations of abuse, saying the army is hunting “terrorists” behind raids on police posts last month.

The government has lashed out at media reports of rapes and killings, and lodged a protest over a UN official in Bangladesh who said the state was carrying out “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya.

Suu Kyi doesn’t seem to have any interest in including the Rohingya, whose genocide she has consistently refused to acknowledge and for which she now stands responsible, in her “unavoidable” national reconciliation.

Of the 30,000 Rohingya who have fled the latest round of ethnic cleansing, many have attempted to cross into neighboring Bangladesh only to have Bangladeshi authorities turn as many of them away as possible. As practically the dictionary definition of “refugees,” these people are, under international law, entitled at the very least to asylum, but Bangladesh isn’t party to the 1951 Refugee Convention so it’s under no obligation to take them in. The closest signatory nations to Myanmar are China, Iran, Afghanistan, and Cambodia. Between the overland routes to China and Afghanistan and the long distance sea voyages it would take to get to either Iran or Cambodia, these places might as well be on the moon for all the good they can do for the Rohingya.

The most recent violence in Rakhine state started in October and has been verified via satellite imagery showing the burning of over 800 buildings across several Rohingya villages. The Myanmar government says that the Rohingya were responsible for a series of October attacks on police and soldiers in Rakhine. Assuming they were, and Myanmar hasn’t done much to prove its accusation, then the appropriate action would be to identify and arrest the perpetrators, not set fire to hundreds of Rohingya homes, kill scores of people, sexually assault Rohingya women, and displace tens of thousands of people. The government has already largely cut off humanitarian aid to Rohingya communities, which are already systemically cut off from opportunities for people to earn a living and provide those necessities for themselves.

Myanmar’s military, which retains considerable power within the government even now that civilian authority has been restored, is hyping the Rohingya as a “threat” in order to boost its popular support, and Suu Kyi, even if she were inclined to do something to stop the violence, is clearly unwilling to risk taking any unpopular steps in that regard. Instead, her government has, at best, looked the other way as the military trains, arms and even pays the Buddhist militias who regularly carry out the bulk of the anti-Rohingya atrocities. And now Ashin Wirathu, the leader of Ma Ba Tha (think the KKK, but Burmese and Buddhist) and the person with more Rohingya blood on his hands than anyone else, is apparently thrilled with the election of Donald Trump and the rise of anti-Islam right-wing nationalism in the West more broadly. Wirathu supported Myanmar’s military government, so he and Suu Kyi are not pals, but it seems they do see eye to eye on the Rohingya. Let’s face it: if the Nobel laureate were truly opposed to the Rohingya genocide, she would have indicated it long ago.


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