Suu Kyi sidesteps Rohingya migrant crisis for political pragmatism

Aung San Suu Kyi's refusal to speak up for the Rohingya migrants has cast doubt over her moral force.
Myanmar-Opposition-Leader-Aung-San-Suu-Kyi-delivers-a-speech-during-a-ceremony-at-her-party-headquarters-in-Yangon-Myanmar-AP-Photo
Myanmar-Opposition-Leader-Aung-San-Suu-Kyi-delivers-a-speech-during-a-ceremony-at-her-party-headquarters-in-Yangon-Myanmar-AP-Photo
Updated on May 29, 2015 02:23 PM IST
Copy Link
AFP | By, Yangon, Myanmar

Aung San Suu Kyi's refusal to speak up for the Rohingya migrants has cast doubt over her moral force and even earned a gentle rebuke from fellow Nobel laureate the Dalai Lama.

Images of hungry migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh hauled from vessels to Southeast Asian shores after months at sea have spurred calls for immediate humanitarian action. Attention has swung to strife-torn Rakhine state in western Myanmar, where tens of thousands of stateless Rohingya Muslims live in dire displacement camps desperate to leave.

Regional nations gathered in Bangkok on Friday to discuss the issue.

In pics: Rohingya migrants take the 'ferry of death'

Myanmar government has been wavering between offering some assistance to stricken migrants and denying any responsibility for their exodus. International rights groups have found little support from Suu Kyi.

Her absence from the discussion has been so conspicuous that the Dalai Lama urged Suu Kyi last week to help them out in this regard. "It's very sad. In the Burmese (Myanmar) case I hope Aung San Suu Kyi, as a Nobel laureate, can do something," he told Thursday's edition of The Australian newspaper. The Buddhist spiritual leader said he recognises the difficulty of her position in a nation where expressing sympathy for the Muslim group brings ready condemnation. "But in spite of that I feel she can do something," he added.

Suu Kyi spent more than 15 years locked up by the former junta for her tireless campaign for democracy in Myanmar. Since her release from house arrest in 2010, Suu Kyi's role has been recast from a defiant human rights defender to a hard-nosed political actor preparing to lead her opposition party into elections later this year.

While Myanmar's government carries the main responsibility for the plight of the Rohingya in the country, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson lamented the veteran activist's failure to use her "moral authority" to press for a better deal for them.

But just months away from the best chance of electoral victory of her political career, Suu Kyi faces pressure in the opposite direction, as public opinion inside Buddhist-majority Myanmar hardens against the Muslim minority Rohingya.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy says it is firmly against the controversial religious bills, which are seen as discriminatory to women and minorities.

On May 19 Suu Kyi said Myanmar's "government has to solve the issue" in her only direct public comments on this crisis.
Against a backdrop of visceral hatred towards the Rohingya and looming polls, Suu Kyi must play an "intricate game of political chess", says Peter Popham, author of a biography of the opposition leader.

Read
Myanmar rejects being 'singled out' by UN at migrant crisis talks

Protesters to UN: Don't blame Myanmar for 'boat people' crisis

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

    'Doing my best': Elon Musk on ‘collapsing birth rate’ amid twins report

    Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk once expressed concerns about the falling birth rate and said he was doing his best to help the underpopulation crisis. "Mark my words, they are sadly true," he said in another tweet. The Billionaire tech entrepreneur made the comment after a report by Business Insider that Musk quietly welcomed twins in November with an executive at his artificial intelligence company Neuralink, Shivon Zilis.

  • This handout photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was taken in 1997 during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and depicts the dorsal surfaces of a monkeypox case in a patient who was displaying the appearance of the characteristic rash during its recuperative stage. 

    WHO issues snapshot of monkeypox cases

    The World Health Organization issued its first situation report on the spread of monkeypox on Thursday, detailing the typical profile of those affected by the outbreak so far. From January 1 to July 4, 6,027 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox and three deaths have been reported to the WHO from 59 countries. Some 82 percent of the cases are in Europe and 15 percent are in the Americas.

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement at Downing Street in London, Britain, July 7, 2022. (REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)

    Zelenskyy expresses sadness at UK PM's exit, praises his ‘leadership, charisma’

    “To be a leader, to call Russia an evil and to take responsibility in the hardest times. To be a leader - to be the first to arrive in Kyiv, despite missile attacks. Thanks Boris Johnson for realising the threat of RF (Russian Federation) monster and always being at the forefront of supporting Ukraine,” Mykhaylo Podolyak, aide of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said in a video on Twitter on Thursday.

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement at Downing Street in London, Britain, July 7, 2022. (REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)

    British Conservative leaders who were toppled by their party

    Duncan Smith, one of a cabal of right-wing eurosceptics dubbed "bastards" by Major, won the Conservative leadership in 2001, replacing William Hague after the party suffered another election defeat to Labour. He lost a confidence vote, becoming the first Tory leader not to fight a general election since Neville Chamberlain, who was accused of appeasing Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s.

  • Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London. Johnson quit as Conservative party leader, after three tumultuous years in charge marked by Brexit, Covid and mounting scandals. 

    Johnson resigns as conservative party leader. Read full text of his speech here

    Boris Johnson said on Thursday that he would resign as Britain's prime minister, bowing to calls from ministerial colleagues and lawmakers in his Conservative Party. Because if I have one insight into human beings, it is that genius and talent and enthusiasm and imagination are evenly distributed throughout the population but opportunity is not. And that's why we must keep levelling up, keep unleashing the potential in every part of the United Kingdom.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, July 07, 2022