Remedying Rohynga Genocide

A Picture and Its Story: "A Desperate Thirst"

George Orwell, the author of the ‘Burmese Days’ once said that, “Every saint is a sinner until proven innocent”.

Aung San Su Kyi, a Nobel Peace Laureate who is currently presiding over one of the most horrendous genocides of our time of her country’s ethnic minority, the Rohyngas- has never been a saintnor is she likely to be one in the near future. Furthermore, the fact that she is a ‘de facto’ and not a de jure head of state makes her more of ceremonial and less of a serious head of state. Thus the world seems to be targeting the wrong person to remedy Rohynga genocide.As a so-called de facto head of state she is nothing more than a tin soldier of the Myanmar generals,the real rulers whose diktats she follows. Moreover, even at the personal level she is known for her disdain towards Rohyngas. It is just that the West has masked many of her failures and portrayed her as a crusader of human rights and a saint of a sort, for their own geopolitical gains.

Far from being a saint, Aung San Su Kyi has been a known sinner to those who have followed her career carefully. From the time she got catapulted by the West as the champion of human rights until she was released from house arrest by the Junta and got their permission to participate in the election and her ascendency to ‘power’ in 2015,she never ever had shown much empathy for her country’s suffering and persecuted Arakanese Muslim minority, the Rohyngas. On the contrary, when briefed of Rohynga persecution during the time of her internment when her face would pop up every now and then in the Western media as the suffering and sacrificing saint of humanity she would display utter disdain and abject ambivalencetowards the issue.

West’s cozying up to Myanmar’s Junta via Aung San Su Kyi did not help the cause either. At the time of Myanmar’s isolation from the West when its generals leaned too close to China, decision was made (perhaps jointly by the 10 Downing and White House) that they needed someone in Myanmar that has had the charm and charisma that they could use to prop up to challenge the Junta morally and eventually act as a bargaining chip with Myanmar’s China leaning military juntatosecure a foothold in the country and offset China’s monopoly.With her fragile, pretty and also saintlydemeanourand the omnipresent bunch of Jasmine inher hair bund, articulate with perfect English withan Oxfordian accent and most importantly, as the daughter of Myanmar’s much revered murdered hero, General Aung San,  Su Kyi fit the bill perfectly and passed the screen test.

West nurtured and trained her over and over again with now familiar script that she repeated many times, that installed her as the enduring beaconof democracy and human rights and a moral fighter, fighting the evil Junta.

Aung San Su Kyi repeated the script in her Nobel acceptance speech as well when she said, “And what was more important, the Nobel Prize had drawn the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma.”True her Nobel did bring World’s attention to Myanmar’s appalling record in democracy and human rights but after having ascended the highest seat of power in Myanmar has Aung San Su Kyi done anything to improve Myanmar’s “struggle for democracy and human rights.”

Very little, especially when it came to the issue of abuse of Rohyngas, the opposite.What has changed however, from her house arrest days when West was her minder to the present where the Junta is her minder is that her role has changed from ‘defender’ of human rights to promoter of genocide and so has her script. It is thus hardly any surprise that when she was confronted with allegationsofRohynga genocide she simply parrotedthe script of her present day minders, Myanmar’s Military Junta and thus termed the whole crisis that had sinceforced 125,000 Rohyngas to flee to Bangladesh a “huge iceberg of misinformation.”What a shameless and a brazen denier she is.

Thus demands in the media right around the world that Aung San Su Kyi’s Nobel be revoked and castigating her as an aberration to human rights are no doubt well-meaning but hardly relevant. Focusing on Aung San Su Kyi onRohynga genocide isa waste of time, forshe is neither in control nor does she possess the empathizing attitudethat are important toremedial actions. Ambivalence of the cajoling West has also not been helping the cause much either.

Regrettably, concentration of noises around Aung San Su Kyi may have given Myanmar’s Junta a welcome gift,deflected attention away from them, the real perpetrators and by extension,from their international partners, the co-habiting cohorts.Keeping Aung San Sy Kyi at the front and by calling shots from behind and also by manipulating the competing power blocks, theWest and China, that jockey with the Junta for political and business favours, it has made Su Kyi the sacrificial lamb and at the same time successfully muted the voices ofthose that have had the capacity to make them listen to and remedy the crisis.Recent veto by China and Russia on a poorly drafted (by US) UN Security Council resolution on the Myanmar crisis confirms both opportunismas well as lackluster attitude of the international community on the crisis.Thus Rohynga killing mission continues with greater impunity.

In Myanmar’s game of things Aung San Su Kyi is nothing but a ‘whipping boy’ for the prince, the Junta and also given the lackadaisical attitude  of the international community on the issue what is needed is a concerted and combined effort by the citizens to wage a movement right around the world (happily, this has already started) to get their governments to put pressure on the entity in Myanmar that matters most, its real rulers, the Juntato immediatelystop all violence and start adialogue to find a solution for Rohyngasthat is mutually acceptable and also permanent(for a proposed solution framework see ‘Rohynga Villages Burning Again’by M. Adil Khan, CounterCurrent. Org; August 31, 2017).

The author is a former senior UN policy manager

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