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Basit Mahmood: Suu Kyi isn’t the liberal she made herself out to be
September 01, 2017
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An administration that refuses UN investigators and the world’s media access to a state where it is believed genocide is taking place; a de facto leader who accuses aid workers of helping terrorists; and an office that accuses women of fabricating stories of sexual violence.

All of this isn’t happening under the watch of a mad dictatorship in an impoverished corner of the globe. These are the actions of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

As we witness some of the bloodiest days of violence in a conflict that has been escalating since last October after decades of persecution against Rohingya Muslims – a group of people who have been stripped of citizenship and rendered stateless since 1982 – the world’s attention has once more turned to Burma.

In the latest round of violence, 18,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled in less than one week after the military launched a brutal crackdown in response to an attack by militants on border posts. The response by the Burmese military over the last year has been one of collective punishment, including mass killings and the destruction of entire villages.

Yet for far too long many of the powerful governments in the West as well as the wider international community have pinned their hopes on finding a solution to the conflict onto Aung San Suu Kyi. Who better than a former prisoner of conscience, who used to deliver speeches about human rights whilst languishing under house arrest, to bring peace to a region scarred by conflict?

Yet this adoption by the international community of Aung San Suu Kyi as the liberal, Oxford educated saviour of Burma has not only failed to live up to expectations, but instead proved to be counterproductive after she delivered the very opposite response of what many expected of a Nobel Peace laureate.

More than a dozen of her own fellow Nobel Laureates wrote an open letter to the UN Security Council in 2016 criticising her actions and warning of ethnic cleansing taking place against the Rohingya.

If this wasn’t enough to shatter the faith of so many that believe Aung San Suu Kyi is the solution to the conflict, her subsequent actions and pronouncements of denial and deflection have put her in the same category as President Trump.

Only two days ago her office accused aid worker of helping terrorists in Myanamar, a statement that was labeled “profoundly irresponsible” by a human rights group. Such statements cease to surprise me any longer. In 2013 after an interview with the BBC’s Mishal Husain Aung San Suu Kyi retorted “no one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim.”

Add to this that Suu Kyi has continuously accused the UN and other human rights groups of exaggerating the plight of the Rohingya in spite of all the testimonies of refugees, dead bodies and first-hand accounts of reporters.

It was Suu Kyi’s decision to accuse the Rohingya who have suffered mass persecution of exaggerating, just like it was her active decision to discredit the crimes suffered by the Rohingya people when their testimonies have been put to her.

Suu Kyi is not only incapable of helping to resolve the conflict due to her desire to appear neutral and not rock the boat with the military, she has also undermined efforts aimed at preventing conflict.

It is about time the West’s fawning over Aung San Suu Kyi ended and many woke up to the grim reality that she is in no position to help resolve this conflict, in spite of her many accolades. In fact she has helped fuel it.

The Independent

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