Unlike much of the mainstream media, this blog is not easily impressed by words. We judge actions to be much more important than promises, or in the case of Nobel prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, we were not surprised by the lack of action.
Our blog post back in 2015 said, “The world’s media appears to be all cock-a-hoop about the election victory of the National League for Democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi. But the reality is that little will change in Myanmar.”
Our prediction has proved right. This blog posted last year that while “...every leader in the world from the Dalai Lama to the Pope to veteran Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu and to the youngest Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yusufzai has called for the end of Rohingya persecution and restoration of their full citizenship rights...Aung San Suu Kyi has publicly refused to heed these calls."
We reported last year that National League for Democracy’s party leader Aung San Suu Kyi said she will protect Muslims in the country but this article in the Guardian casts a lot of doubt on that pledge. Burma's generals in effect still control parliament after a deeply flawed 2010 election and Aung San Suu Kyi has done little to seriously challenge them.
Interviews by the Guardian with more than a dozen diplomats, analysts and current and former advisers reveal frustrations with Aung San Suu Kyi’s questionable leadership style, her inability or unwillingness to communicate a vision, and her reluctance to speak out against the persecution of minorities. One diplomat put it, “I think she’s closer to a Margaret Thatcher.” It’s a stark contrast to the Aung San Suu Kyi during her 15 years of house arrest. David Mathieson, a longtime Myanmar researcher for Human Rights Watch who is now an independent consultant said, “She was principled … And I think it’s lamentable that she’s not doing the equivalent of that now.”
A senior aid worker explained, “In meetings, she is dismissive, dictatorial – in some cases, belittling,” and continued, the government, he said, has become “so centralised, there is complete fear of her”. Obsession with party loyalty soon became a theme. NLD legislators were told not to speak to the media in the run-up to the election and then were ordered not to raise tough questions in parliament.
The biggest moral challenge for her is posed by Rakhine state, a tinderbox of tension between minority Rohingya Muslims and majority Buddhists. In 2012, she did not speak out after a surge in sectarian violence that led to the deaths of hundreds of people, mostly Rohingya Muslims, in Rakhine state. In an apparent concession to domestic racist factions, her party blocked Muslims from running for parliament in 2015.
On 9 October nine police officers were killed on the western border with Bangladesh by Rohingya armed with swords and makeshift rifles. Soldiers sealed off the remote corner of the country, barring media and aid access. Tens of thousands of Rohingya, whom many in Myanmar regard as illegal “Bengali” immigrants from Bangladesh, fled across the border to refugee camps. They have recounted mass killings and rape, accusations which the military denies. One woman who spoke to the Guardian said troops raped her, killed her husband and seven of her children. One child survived, she said.