People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
Songs of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel (1964)It was only two months ago, on June 16 that Myanmar opposition leader and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, received the Noble Prize she was awarded 21 years ago in 1991.
The 66 year old human rights campaigner and head of the National League for Democracy (NLD) received a standing ovation at the award ceremony in the packed city hall in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.
In her award acceptance speech, she said that the award had focused global attention on the battle for human rights and democracy in Mynamar and ensured “we were not going to be forgotten.”
Why then is she silent and keeping quiet on the current genocide on the Rohingya by the junta in Myanmar? Why not a word from her on this massive scale atrocities committed against humanity on the Rohingyas?
The News Straits Times had this story for quite a few days ago:
Suu Kyi must not ignore the Rohingya
By Fuadi Pitsuwan
New Straits Times 9 August 2012
DODGING ISSUE: The community is without citizenship and protection by state, writes Fuadi Pitsuwan
Rohingya people at a refugee camp in Rakhine state in western Myanmar. The community has never been recognised by the Myanmar government as minorities living in the country - AFP pic
IT was reported that Aung San Suu Kyi dodged a question on whether the Rohingya are Myanmar citizens. She simply answered "I don't know" to an intrigued student who posed the question to her during a public forum in Europe last month. Her answer was a disappointment, given the fact that the world sees her as the icon of democracy and human rights.
The Rohingya are stateless minority Muslims living in Rakhine (formerly Arkan), the westernmost state of Myanmar bordering Bangladesh. Despite historical records indicating that the majority of them had been in the area of modern-day Myanmar since the early 19th century, the Rohingya have never been recognised by the government as a minority living in the country.
Today, an estimated 800,000 Rohingya are living in Rakhine; 300,000 more have fled persecution to seek refuge in Bangladesh, but they are facing discrimination there, too.
There are also large Rohingya diasporas in Thailand and Malaysia.
The military junta's dismal record of protecting minority groups is arguably most apparent in the treatment of the Rohingya. Without citizenship, the Rohingya are not subjected to protection by state.
The focus of international attention has always been to hold the Myanmar government accountable for other minority groups, such as the Kachin, Shan, Chin, Karen, among others, which the government is under legal obligation to provide protection as they are considered citizens of Myanmar by law. Such a focus has left the plight of the Rohingya in limbo.
The rights of the Rohingya have consistently been violated even before the founding of the independent state of Myanmar. Up until 1982, however, it was more hopeful for the Rohingya. The 1948 law concerning citizenship did not exclude the Rohingya and appeared open to any ethnic minorities who had settled in the country for more than two generations.
In 1982, under the government of General Ne Win, the citizenship law was effectively overturned. The Citizenship Act of 1982 recognises 135 ethnic groups, but leaves out what the law terms "non-nationals", which include the Rohingya as well as those of Chinese and Indian descent.
Without citizenship, the Rohingya' freedom of movement is restricted. They are prevented from a formal education and denied healthcare. They need permission to get married and are restricted to two children per family. State authorities have coerced them into forced labour and engaged in other forms of persecution.
Even worse, the Buddhist majority of Myanmar view them with suspicion. Some choose to violently resist the presence of the Rohingya in their community. Human rights violations committed against the Rohingya have been so gross that the United Nations called them "one of the most persecuted minorities in the world".
The positive development in Myanmar since the civilian government took over last year is being overshadowed by the recent spike in violence in Rakhine. The current skirmish, claimed by the Buddhist community as retaliation against the raping and killing of a Buddhist girl by Rohingya men, has resulted in significant loss of life and displacement with contradictory figures depending on sources.
The Myanmar government imposed an emergency decree in the conflict area, but has not been effective in ending violence. Unsurprisingly, the authority appears more sympathetic to the Buddhist side, rather than remaining neutral. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accused the authority of actively targeting the Rohingya.
It is upsetting that Suu Kyi, who has come to symbolise humanity's struggle for democracy and human rights, does not have a firm position regarding the plight of the Rohingya.
When giving a speech in Thailand to Myanmar migrants in May, she promised them citizenship. But when pressed on the Rohingya issue, she dodged the question.
Understandably, Suu Kyi's political base, the Buddhist majority, may have prevented her from taking a more concrete stand on the Rohingya issue for fear of alienating her core supporters.
But as a beacon of democracy and human rights, Suu Kyi cannot afford to ignore the plight of the Rohingya. She cannot compromise on her principles and opt for an easier route to reform.
Her support will matter in nudging President Thein Sein's government to include the Rohingya in the reform process. Her leverage in world affairs will draw international attention and put pressure on the Myanmar Parliament to revise the citizenship law.
Continued neglect of the Rohingya by Suu Kyi and the Myanmar government could produce a much more corrosive effect on the country's attempt to embark on the path of democracy.
Systematic abuse of human rights and denial of citizenship could ferment dangerous discontent, leading to an uprising or armed insurgency.
Already, the Rohingya have found their allies in Islamic movements when the Taliban in Pakistan said they would retaliate against the Myanmar government. Indonesian Islamic hardliners also vowed to wage jihad to stop the genocide.
As such, it should be of interest to Suu Kyi and Thein Sein to settle this issue as quickly and peacefully as possible.
For Myanmar to maintain its trajectory of reform, this issue cannot be ignored. In her maiden speech to Parliament, Suu Kyi called for new laws to protect the rights of "ethnic nationalities".
She must not forget that the Rohingya, having lived in Myanmar for centuries, deserve the right to citizenship and protection from the state. They, too, are humans who warrant the chance to participate in the political and economic development of their country.
Suu Kyi and the government should give them that opportunity.
Fuadi Pitsuwan, is a non-resident WSD-Handa Fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS in Honolulu, Hawaii, and a Belfer IGA Student Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of GovernmentThe NST is not alone in this. The latest from Gulf News in their online portal call upon her to speak. Read below:
Calling on Suu Kyi to speak for Rohingyas
Myanmar’s iconic opposition leader had better learn she cannot cherry pick when it comes to human rights
By Qais Ghanem | Special to Gulf News
Published: 20:00 August 14, 2012
|Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar democracy champion
Image Credit: AFP
On Saturday, 11 August, I read in the UAE Arabic paper Abral Imarat (Across the Emirates) that Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan had written to relevant international bodies such as the United Nations about the catastrophic situation in which the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar find themselves.
This is one of the most persecuted stateless groups in the world as identified by the UN. We have all read about the massacres that have taken place in the past few weeks, and have seen horrific pictures of naked or semi-naked bodies of male and female adults and children in long rows and huge piles, apparently being “cremated”, something not allowed by Islam, but apparently perpetrated by Myanmar Buddhists, of all people.
If confirmed, these would constitute serious crimes against humanity apparently committed while the world, including the government of Myanmar, looks the other way. I have seen commentary pointing out that Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader, who recently received her Nobel peace prize, did not see fit to comment on such blatant atrocities.
In Britain’s The Daily Telegraph, Alex Spilius reported that she was facing a backlash from fellow pro-democracy campaigners who were dismayed at her refusal to speak out against abuses being committed by her country’s military junta, who apparently wish to deport 800,000 Rohingya, across the border to Bangladesh, the pretext being that Bangladesh is a Muslim country. Bangladesh turned them back, claiming that the country was already too crowded with Bangladeshis.
Someone should remind Aung San Suu Kyi that she cannot cherry-pick when it comes to human rights, including those of Muslims, who make up 20 per cent of the world population. Indeed, her exalted iconic position in the world and local opinion dictates that she intervenes, regardless of the cost to her popularity among her own people.
We read that the atrocities were precipitated by rape committed by some Rohingya men. While this may be true, it could not be the sole cause; rather the final straw which came in the wake of chronic mistrust and animosity between the two groups. Whenever we scratch below the surface, we will always find that these ethnic and sectarian conflicts are due to competition for land and resources, both in short supply in these destitute and congested parts of the world.
In addition to the UN, and the EU, Shaikh Abdullah has also addressed the Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). But how much can this body do? It certainly represents about a fifth of the population of the planet. It also harbours a significant portion of the oil reserves of the world.
But, it also has a disproportionate share of the world’s corruption, illiteracy, morbidity and autocracy; factors that help make it a relatively dysfunctional and non-effectual body. Had that not been the case, one could imagine how much clout it would have, if and when it demands from the military dictators of Myanmar, respect of the human rights of its Muslim population.
Is that interference in the internal affairs of Myanmar? Of course not; and Shaikh Abdullah did not think so. It is no more interference than when the United States insists on respect for the human rights of Copts in Egypt.
Read on here
Dr Qais Ghanem is a retired neurologist, radio show host, poet and novelist. His two novels are Final Flight from Sana’a and Two Boys from Aden College. He lives in Canada.interest to her masters in the West?
Or is she merely an exotic poodle comfortably kept and fed in the homes of wealthy British aristocrasy and owes her life to her masters as many suspected during the height of international campaign to seek her release?
The resource rich state of Myanmar was a former British colony. The British and American as the only other Western state interest in Mynamar are interested in their oil reserve and strategically "encircling" China.
It is no surprise that the Noble Peace prize award ceremony for Suu Kyi was given a live coverage by all international media channels.
|From left to right: Father, Bongyoke Aung San, grandmother, Daw Su, mother, Daw Kin Kyi, brothers Aung San Oo and Aung San Lin, and Aung Sang Suu Kyi (1947)
Suu Kyi was the daughter of a murdered Myanmar freedom fighter. Upon her father's death, her mother fled the country and raised Suu Kyi in England before returning to Myanmar later.
She lived abroad all her life, married an English professor and reside In Oxford. Her children remains in Britain.
|Left to right: Son Alexander, husband Micheal Aris and son Kim
On her return to Myanmar in 1988 with her husband to visit her ailing mother, she ended up leading a democratic uprising to oppose the ruling military junta. She was only recently released from long periods of house arrest or imprisonment. Her husband had long returned to Britain.
While there are those that do not emphatise with her due to the visibly strong western interest, the corrupt and tyrannical military junta does not attract opposing support neither.
Nevertheless, Suu Kyi would like to be reminded that Malaysia played an important diplomacy role towards her release with Tan Sri Razali Ismail played a key role to broker her freedom.
She should remember that Malaysia is harboring and providing life to tens of thousands, if not hundred of thousands, of her fellow countrymen. In fact, the Free Burma movement is free and uninhibited to pursue their cause here in Malaysia.
Malaysian public can voice out to demand to put a stop to bringing in Myanmar workers to protest this inhuman act by her country for our Muslim brothers.
However, why should we retaliate to stop doing good deed by giving a helping hand to our neighbour? Myanmar is helping us elevate our labour problem, but there is no stopping us to retaliate by seeking help from elsewhere?
Suu Kyi does not need to be threatened with retaliatory actions to do the humanely decent thing to lent her voice to the plight of the Rohingyas and proof she is really worthy of the Noble Peace prize she was awarded for.
The problems of the Rohingyas or the Arakian Muslims is not a recent problem but has been in existence for decades. Don't tell us "I don't know!"
In Malaysia, there are such creatures and one so-called Human Rights Organisation called SUARAM resort to lying and slander in their accusation on the proven wrong allegation of impropriety in the purchase of Scorpene submarine.
None is expected from them for the Rohingyas.
For their political self interest, neither was there a whimper of disapproval on the discrimination in some Pakatan states.
They are only an unregistered entity that is illegally taking money from the public using all these so-called claimed struggle for fairness, good governance, and rights.
In the meanwhile, their counterparts in the Middle East were camouflage for foreigners intervening in the affair of another country to by financing and supplying arms to opposition to bring the existing Government down through popular or armed revolutions.
|Keen interest from the West
Is Suu Kyi any different?
She used to say, "Our struggle for democracy is a struggle for our everyday life." And she used to say, "Human beings the world over need freedom and security that they may be able to realize their full potential."
Her song of silence means that in the eyes of Suu Kyi and her masters in the west, the Rohingyas Muslims do not deserve to lead an everyday life, let alone realise their full potential.
Note: Kelab Putera 1Malaysia will be making making a humanitarian mission to Myanmar to help the Rohingyas. Any donations from the Malaysian public can be forwarded to Kelab Putera 1Malaysia, No. 66, Jalan Kg Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur Tel: 02-22736004 Fax: 03-22736678 Hotline: 1300881113