Aung San Suu Kyi: A haggard shadow of her former self


So that’s all right then. An investigation has completely cleared the Myanmar army of horrific human rights abuses against the Muslim Rohingya community. It has not murdered, raped, plundered and razed villages. It has not driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes to seek refuge in Bangladesh. There is only one small problem with this investigation. It was carried out by the Myanmar army itself.

According to this mealy-mouthed report, it was Rohingya “terrorists” who burnt down the towns and villages of their own people and forced them to flee their country. The craven lies that the military have served up, in defiance of the evidence of journalists, the testimony of countless witnesses and the researches of respected international organizations, are altogether breathtaking.

Nazi Germany’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels once said: “The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed”. However, the immensity of the Myanmar army’s lie is not going to wash. There is simply too much horrific evidence that has already been recorded, photographic and verified testimony, to make this great untruth in the least bit credible.

Instead the army’s “investigation” actually underlines the wicked Islamophobic crimes that have been committed and are still being committed against this persecuted minority of Myanmar citizens. Whatever the army deny is true. Whatever it claims is untrue.

And sitting at the head of this country and its savage bigotry is the Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who disgraces the honor that she bears. Her failure to stop the massacres and ethnic cleansing has been deplorable. Even if it is true that she still lacks the political power to rein in the country’s former military rulers, who hold the key defense and interior ministries and have a guaranteed bloc in the legislature, she still has her voice. This was the voice that was raised quietly but firmly in defiance of the ruling Junta during years of imprisonment and house-arrest, the voice that won the admiration of the world. She told her followers to avoid violence. She insisted that their victory would come through quiet persistence.

When in 1991 she received the Nobel Peace Prize, few recipients had seemed more deserving. The woman who now insists that there are no problems with the Rohingya, who toes her generals’ line that the violence in Rakhine province is all the fault of Muslim terrorists, is a haggard shadow of her once courageous self.

The Irish pop star, Bob Geldof has just handed back his Freedom of the City of Dublin because councilors in the Irish capital have refused to remove the same honor from Suu Kyi. Geldof, who is never slow to mount a good cause, made his move in front of the media circus he is so good at organizing. Yet he is doubtless sincere and probably hopes that his action will trigger similar repudiations by people who share the same awards with Suu Kyi.

The biggest of all these is, of course, the Nobel Peace Prize. Since it began in 1901 it has been awarded to 104 individuals and 23 organizations. It has never been withdrawn. The time has surely come for the Nobel Committee to think again. Aung San Suu Kyi has proven utterly unworthy of the accolade.