Aung San Suu Kyi

When the German transatlantic liner the St. Louis set off with 900 German Jews seeking refuge, it was 1939 and they were trying to escape what became one of the most despicable events in European history. Neither Canada nor the United States offered to help the people on this ship and it sailed on to Cuba.

Seventy-eight years later, almost 400,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since the last week of August. In an ethnic cleansing led by the military, they have been driven out, their villages burnt so they have nothing to return to, and, to be doubly certain they stay out, the border peppered with landmines. Their recitation is familiar: killings, rape, torture and individual horrors often too grotesque to describe. The incidents are just the latest in a half-decade long persecution described in horrific detail by a UN report released in February.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has urged Myanmar to end the cruelty. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has affirmed evidence of genocide punishable as a crime.

As a former prime minister of Portugal, Guterres is cognizant of the responsibilities of a head of government. Thus it is with sadness one comes to Aung San Suu Kyi, a winner of the Nobel PeacePrize, an icon of patience, calm and fortitude who faced with unwavering courage a military dictatorship that had little regard for human rights.

She has labeled the Rohingyas terrorists and done nothing, while Myanmar’s military has determinedly continued its genocide. There is a formal definition of it in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, which in Article II, describes each of the genocidal acts punishable as a crime. The Myanmar military is guilty of all except the last. It’s worse: The February human rights report describes killings such as newborns being stamped to death.

There are other reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International displaying copious evidence that Aung San Suu Kyi continues to ignore, claiming the Rohingya are terrorists. She has been uncooperative with the UNobstructed aid to the region, even accused aid workers of helping terrorists. Reporters are generally not allowed in the area.

Fellow Nobelists have beseeched Aung San Suu Kyi: Archbishop Desmond Tutu has appealed directly through an open letter, and Malala Yousafzai has repeatedly urged her to protect these vulnerable people. Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Mairead Maguire, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman have jointly signed a letter asking “How many Rohingya have to die; how many Rohingya women will be raped; how many communities will be razed before you raise your voice?” It is not new; they have been trying since 2015. Aung San Suu Kyi’s silence has been overwhelming.

In a BBC news report, correspondent Jonathan Head was led around burnt villages by minders claiming the fires had been set by the Rohingya themselves to place the blame on the military and the Buddhist population. By chance, the BBC team came upon a new fire not too far off the road. Stopping their jeep, they jumped out and ran to it, leaving their minders behind. Young Buddhist men carrying machetes had set the fires and freely admitted to working with the military to drive out the Rohingya. 

The Rohingya have lived there for centuries. They speak Rohingya or Ruaingga, a distinct dialect. The differences stem from the Second World War, when they supported the British while the majority Buddhists supported the Buddhist Japanese. Following economic failures, the military junta acted against this maligned minority to garner support, revoking their citizenship in 1982 and leaving them stateless. Some historians believe they have lived along the coast in Arakan (now Rakhine) since the 12th century.

It has been several years since the mass expulsions began. For this to go on in the 21st century is an appalling indictment of the world community. For it to go on with a Nobel Peace Prize laureate at the head of a government practicing this genocide would have been unimaginable were it not true. It makes a mockery of the prize. It must not be, hence a petition to revoke it. Please join. It is the least we can do.

Author’s Note:  This article first appeared on Truth-out

Dr Arshad M Khan ( is a former Professor based in the U.S. whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and internet media.  His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in the Congressional Record.

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  1. Sally Dugman says:

    The truth is that quite a number of Nobel prize winners do not deserve receipt of the award. … Look at Obama (O-bomb-a), for example:

    Obama’s covert drone war in numbers: ten times more strikes than ……/obamas-covert-drone-war-in-numbers-ten-t…
    Jan 17, 2017 – The use of drones aligned with Obama’s ambition to keep up the war … Obama ordered more drone strikes than Bush did during his entire presidency. … The number of countries being simultaneously bombed by the US …

    America dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016. What a bloody end to … › Opinion › US foreign policy
    Jan 9, 2017 – According to new figures, the US dropped nearly three bombs every hour, … a staggering jump of 130% since the days of the Bush administration. … Obama authorized over 10 times more drone strikes than George W Bush, …

    Then, there is this very wrongful and mentally ill sociopath concerning whom I almost rank in wrongfulness with J. Mengle and Vlad the Impaler:

    Henry Kissinger – Top 10 Nobel Prize Controversies – TIME…/0,28804,2096389_2096388_2096386,00.html
    Oct 7, 2011 – Once called “the most controversial to date,” the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Henry Kissinger in 1973 was fraught with debate.

    Some deserve accolades. I liked that American Friends Service Committee and British counterpart organization got it. … They quietly tried to rebuild German and got milk to German children after WWII amongst other efforts to rebuild Europe. Indeed the slang word for milk became the German word for Quaker when no other group tried to get milk to innocent German children:

    Nobel Peace Prize | American Friends Service Committee
    In 1947, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and British Friends Service Council accepted one of the most prestigious awards in the world—the Nobel Peace Prize—on behalf of Quakers worldwide. … As a Nobel laureate, AFSC is able to nominate a candidate for the peace …

    I was raised by Quaker parents. I like that one of our friends got it. He deserved it, especially for his vision and efforts to bring water supplies to arid places in Africa:

    William Vickrey – Facts…/laureates/1996/vickrey-facts.htm…
    The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1996. James A. Mirrlees, William Vickrey. … MLA style: “William Vickrey – Facts”.
    William Vickrey – Prize Lectures on William Vickrey…/laureates/…/vickrey-lecture.html
    William Vickrey: A Pioneer in the Economics of Incentives … …

    If we are going to push forward to try to change the idea of whom receives Nobel awards, let’s go after all of the vicious monsters — not just one of the recipients. Yet let’s leave the good ones and their views intact! … Especially if we look at the sheer amount of brutality undertaken to date by Nobel recipients, nobody get the award is as close to being a horror as are Obama and Kissinger.

    Obviously, there is a lunatic element in our species is my view. How else could such butchers receive a peace prize? It’s a mockery of the prize’s meaning, obviously.

  2. Sally Dugman says:

    Recommendation: See “the Voyage of the Damned.” I did shortly after it was made. It is an ugly indictment of humanity:

    MS St. Louis – Wikipedia
    The MS St. Louis was a German ocean liner. In 1939, it set off on a voyage in which its captain, Gustav Schröder, tried to find homes for over 900 Jewish refugees from Germany. … and Max Morgan-Witts. It was adapted for a 1976 U.S. film of the same title and a 1994 opera titled “St. Louis Blues” by Chiel Meijering.
    ‎”Voyage of the Damned” · ‎Legacy · ‎Representation in other … · ‎See also
    SS St Louis: The ship of Jewish refugees nobody wanted – BBC News
    May 13, 2014 – In 1939, a ship carrying more than 900 German Jews sailed from Hamburg to … On 13 May 1939, more than 900 Jews fled Germany aboard a luxury cruise liner, the SS St Louis. … Tearful relatives waved them off at the station in Berlin. … The journey was the subject of the 1976 film Voyage of the Damned.
    Voyage of the St. Louis – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Entire Encyclopedia, Article, ID Card, Artifact, Document, Historical Film Footage … On May 13, 1939, the German transatlantic liner St. Louis sailed from … The majority of the Jewish passengers had applied for US visas, and had … Berenson made a counteroffer, but Bru rejected the proposal and broke off negotiations.
    The Tragedy of SS St. Louis – Jewish Virtual Library
    Only a half an hour after the S.S. St. Louis set sail, it received a message from … Der Stürmer, by substituting a newsreel with Nazi propaganda for the intended film, and … After several hours of searching, the search was called off and the ship …

  3. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Nobel prize are not the yardsticks of measuring contribution to society. People like G. B. Shaw or Pasternak did not take the prize. Suu kyi who fought for the democratic restoration of Myanmar is behaving undemocratically and inhuman attitude of her government is destroying the lives of rohingyas