On November 13th, 2010 Aung San Suu Kyi was finally released from house arrest by the military government of Burma. She was put under house arrest for her political activities which included non-violent protests against the military junta. A military junta is usually a group of military officers which take power from a civilian government by force. Her belief of a nation – state to be governed by a civilian government, her strong opposition of the military junta and the crimes they committed against anyone who opposed them, and her vision of a Myanmar where all ethnic groups which make up the state living side by side in harmony, got her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. The irony of it all is that as Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now the de facto leader of Myanmar has remained silent on the atrocities committed by the military of Myanmar against the Rohingya, sadly enough this is not the first time Suu Kyi has refused to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. On a 2013 interview with BBC, she denied the accusations of Rohingya genocide and at the end of the interview even expressed her frustration of been interviewed by a Muslim.
Who are the Rohingya?
The Rohingya are a minority ethnic group without a state; however they have inhabited the Rakhine State of Myanmar for centuries. The government of Myanmar does not recognize them as citizens of the state, and does not give them any rights. Furthermore they have been persecuted repeatedly decade after decade in barbaric proportions by the government of Myanmar with the worse persecution taking place as we speak, as many of their villages have been burned and thousands of civilians are forced to flee from their homes.
As of now over 90,000 Rohingya people have crossed the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh, following 10 days of violence including arsons, rapes and murders committed by the military of Myanmar. In addition some more thousands are stuck between the borders of Myanmar and Bangladesh and are not allowed to cross over the border as Bangladesh is currently facing some of the worst floods in its history and is overwhelmed by the already large number of refugees crossing over, thus creating more chaotic scenes of fear, desperation, and hopelessness for an already traumatized and vulnerable population. The military has blamed the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army for the violence, which cannot be confirmed; however any attack against unarmed civilians is beyond unjustifiable.
As the days go by, more people are speaking out against the persecution of the Rohingya. Several imams have raised awareness of the situation during the Friday prayers, in other majority Muslim nation – states, people have demonstrated in the thousands. The committee which awards the Nobel Peace Prize stated that Aung San Suu Kyi must return her award. World leaders have joined in the outcry and public shaming of the government of Myanmar and in particular Aung San Suu Kyi. Although these actions are welcomed, especially the protests, more must be done for the Rohingya, for years the world has remained silent in their plea for help, as a global community we should no longer remain silent. The Rohingya first and foremost deserve justice, to be treated as human beings, to have the right for self-determination, and for the government of Myanmar to stop their persecution.
Lastly, in regards to Aung San Suu kyi, as someone who knows how it is to be persecuted and jailed for speaking out injustice, she should be ashamed of herself for defending these atrocities. She is definitely not worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize and she should return it.
At some point this violence will end, but the persecution of the Rohingya will not. We should not forget that, nor remain silent anymore.