“Authority, power, and wealth don’t change a man. It only reveals him”, Imam Ali (a.s.). Myanmar`s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, had spent almost 15 years under house arrest before she began her political career. She is now the State Counsellor of Myanmar. During her house arrest, she was praised all over the world because of her unshakeable stance for democracy and her unwavering commitment to the rights of people. But these days her government is facing intense international criticism over military action against Rohingya Muslims and her unprecedented silence about this violence. During the days of her incarceration, she was an emblem of suffering, and now she is a symbol of silence, complicity and cruelty. The determination with which she refused to capitulate to her oppressors then, is now the material of her refusal to have mercy, to impose the suffering that degrades, embitters and enrages an individual. She is a Nobel Peace Prize winner who is devoid of the nobility of character. She is in power and her real cruel face is evident to the whole world.
Most of Myanmar’s population is Buddhist,, led by firebrand monks. There is widespread hostility toward the Rohingya Muslims who are in the minority and are discriminated against regularly. The government not only denies them citizenship but also labels them illegal Bengali immigrants. The Buddhist monks are leading an Islamophobic campaign, calling for them to be pushed out of the country. This time the situation aggravated because of the militant attacks on Myanmar`s security forces in Rakhine on August 25. The attack sparked the worst military backlash. In the last three weeks alone 300,000 mostly Rohingya civilians have fled to Bangladesh, where refugee camps have almost burst at the seams.
Suu Kyi along with the rest of Myanmar`s government is presiding over this massacre. Even the UN human rights chief said, “The country is waging a `systematic attack` on the Rohingya Muslims.” He warned that `ethnic cleansing` seemed to be underway. According to reports, more than 1,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed; scores have drowned trying to make the perilous sea journey in boats. Many of the dead were children. Others have died while trying to flee the fighting in Rakhine state, where witnesses say entire villages have been burned. Instead of speaking against this massacre and violence, Suu Kyi’s foreign ministry defended the military for doing their `legitimate duty to restore stability`, saying troops were under orders ‘to exercise all due restraint and to take full measures to avoid collateral damage.’
The inaction of the UN on this issue is condemnable. It is shameful that the organization has failed to follow its basic principles of upholding human rights and protecting people from persecution and genocide. People all over the world were expecting that the UN would assert the principle of humanitarian intervention without discrimination, but it is heartbreaking to witness that the UN is not fulfilling its duties. At the same time, the international community is merely a silent spectator as the persecution of Rohingya’s is in full swing. The issue has unfolded the double standard of the international community on human rights.
The credibility of the Noble Peace Prize has also become questionable in the wake of this crisis. According to news reports, there are over 400,000 signatures including those of former laureates on a petition demanding that Suu Kyi`s Nobel Prize be revoked. All have asked the Nobel Committee to take immediate action against Suu Kyi by revoking the prize that was conferred upon her. But unfortunately, the Nobel Committee has never, in its history, revoked a prize, and they will not do it now. It makes clear that the West honors those with such prizes who suits and fulfills their interests. Suu Kyi has been the darling of the West, and her stand against the military dictatorship made her famous. She won the Noble Peace prize in 1991. The West has waged many unjust wars in the world and involved abuse of human rights, and Su Kyi is following the footsteps by doing all these violations and killing innocent Rohingya Muslims under the guise of fighting against terrorism. According to Myanmar government, Rohingya Muslims are potential terrorists, and hence none can be victims, and their persecution is entirely justifiable.
Awarding the Nobel Prize or revoking it is meaningless because it cannot stop the massacre of the Rohingya. The Nobel laureate who pretended to speak for justice will not intervene on their behalf, nor will she halt the massacre. She has refused to speak out against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in her country. She seems careless about what international community now thinks of her. Besides, the response of the UN and the world is unprecedented as mobs burn villages and lynch minorities. It has also proved that Suu Kyi is no more human rights champion and the Noble Peace Prize is meaningless for such persons.