Descriptions of the recent Rohingya crisis have spread far and wide, across the globe, and finally seem to have caught the eyes of the world.
Despite having always lived in that land, the world’s most persecuted minority, the Rohingya of Myanmar, still do not see the light of hope to retreat to their homeland -- as they are now victims of a massive, bloody military crackdown which turns them into hungry destitutes, and forces them to become refugees in Bangladesh.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who is probably the most popular leader in Myanmar, has been feted in the West as a champion of democracy during the years of military rule and her house arrest in Myanmar. But now, she faces growing criticism over the plight of the Rohingya.
As condemnations pour in from across the world, Suu Kyi has defended not the displaced Rohingya, but the army, saying critics of the crackdown were being deceived by “a huge iceberg of misinformation.”
Western diplomats and aid officials had been hoping to see her unequivocal condemnation of the violence in her first address since the breakout of violence in the Rakhine state in late August.
But Suu Kyi disappointed the world when she watered over the world’s expectations while she circuitously stood behind the military expedition and, to some extent, even encouraged their brutal activities against the Rohingya communities.
Around the world
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged the UN Security Council to take “strong and swift action” to bring Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis to an end. On Wednesday, US Vice President Mike Pence called the violence a threat to the region and beyond.
In a telephone call with Suu Kyi, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson welcomed Myanmar’s commitment to allow the return of refugees, but urged it to facilitate aid to those affected by the violence and address “deeply troubling” rights abuse allegations, the State Department said.
Meanwhile, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Murphy visited Myanmar to meet government officials and representatives of different communities in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state.
Suu Kyi rejected a suggestion that she has a soft corner for the military: ‘We have never criticised the military itself, but only their actions. We may disagree on these types of actions,’ she said
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she talked to Trump on Monday about Rohingya Muslims flooding into her country, but expected no help from him as he has made how he feels about refugees crystal clear.
China, which has close economic and diplomatic ties with Myanmar and is a competitor to the US for influence in the strategically important country, has called for understanding of the government’s efforts to protect stability.
Britain said it has suspended a military training program in Myanmar, and French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the “unacceptable ethnic cleaning” and said he would launch a UN Security Council initiative to ensure humanitarian access and put an end to the violence.
Suu Kyi and the military
Suu Kyi rejected a suggestion that she has a soft corner for the military, and instead declared that her objective was national reconciliation on Radio Free Asia: “We have never criticised the military itself, but only their actions. We may disagree on these types of actions,” she said.
Making the situation complex through some of her fury, unequivocal comments which go against the Rohingya, and her clear bias towards the military, Suu Kyi has already been condemned by many on her legacy as Nobel peace prize laureate.
But now she acts as a key player in throwing the world’s most persecuted minority community under the bus and over the fence, and even it takes away their light of hope to go back to their homeland.
Mehedi Hassan Munna is a freelance contributor.