Aung San Suu Kyi Struggles to Unite a Fractured Myanmar

There’s a man named John, aged somewhere in his 50s, who sometimes loiters near the entrance to the headquarters of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Myanmar’s ruling party as of one year ago. If you say hello to him, preferably in his native Burmese, there’s a very good chance that he will tell you all about the day the White Bridge turned red.

John says that on March 13, 1988, he was shot in the back — he readily displays a scar as evidence — and his college girlfriend was killed when police violently cracked down on a student protest that had morphed into an openly antigovernment march. The White Bridge atrocity was one of the early events that led to Myanmar’s 1988 uprising, which by August of that year had grown into a nationwide effort to overthrow the country’s brutal military regime. Authorities responded, predictably, with more brutality.

One year ago, on March 30 , the NLD was sworn in as Myanmar’s ruling party with a resounding majority after it swept the country’s first free election in decades on Nov. 8, 2015. The party, led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, now 71, was founded in the wake of the 88 popular uprising, and after a decades-long struggle she marshaled its members to a dramatic comeback and she became State Counselor, the country’s highest civilian role. This was the stuff of screenplays: in a rare vindication of history, a former political prisoner, the quiet and dignified daughter of the country’s late independence hero, stepped out of the sidelines to trounce the corrupt, inept and violent regime that had kept her in confinement for the better half of two decades.

Source: for MORE

The Rohingyas, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the Maligning of Myanmar

According to most of the world’s media, an unfathomable tragedy has been slowly unfolding in Myanmar. The Buddhist majority, inflamed by sinister monks, has been persecuting, killing, even massacring, members of the entirely inoffensive Muslim Rohingya minority in the northern state of Rakhine (formerly, and in some places still, known as “Arakan”). The term “Rohingya” refers, as Professor Andrew Selth of Griffith University has noted, to the “Bengali Muslims who live in Arakan State…most Rohingyas arrived with the British colonialists in the 19th and 20th centuries.” Some call the attacks a “genocide.”

According to almost all reports from non-Burmese, these attacks on the Rohingya are completely indefensible and, indeed, inexplicable, the result of hysteria – assumed by one and all to be without any conceivable justification –whipped up by Buddhist monks, headed by a sinister senior monk, Ashin Parathu, who has been accused by The Guardian of “stoking religious hatred across Burma. His paranoia and fear, muddled with racist stereotypes and unfounded rumors, have helped to incite violence and spread disinformation.”

Particularly disappointing for many reporters has been what they regard as the unforgivable silence of Aung San Suu Kyi, currently the head of the Myanmar government. For Aung San Suu Kyi was formerly the leader of the nonviolent opposition to the Burmese military, placed under house arrest by the generals, then freed and awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. For more than two decades she was, for her continued defiance of the generals, and willingness to endure that house arrest, a darling of the international media. She has held a number of important government posts and is now both Foreign Minister and State Counsellor (equivalent to Prime Minister) in Myanmar.

But in her continuing refusal to condemn outright the attacks on the Rohingya, and in her insistence that in Myanmar there has been “violence on both sides,” Aung San Suu Kyi is now seen by many outside Myanmar in quite another light. Many have criticized Aung San Suu Kyi for her silence on the 2012 Rakhine State riots, when Buddhists attacked Muslims, and castigate her for what they see as her general indifference to the ongoing mistreatment of the Rohingya by Burmese Buddhists. Twenty-three Nobel laureates and other “peace activists” signed a letter in November 2016 asking Aung San Suu Kyi to speak out about the Rohingya: “Despite repeated appeals to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, we are frustrated that she has not taken any initiative to ensure full and equal citizenship rights of the Rohingyas,” their Open Letter states. “Daw Suu Kyi is the leader and is the one with the primary responsibility to lead, and lead with courage, humanity and compassion.”

Prime Minister Suu Kyi has refused to address accusations that the Muslim Rohingya may be victims of crimes against humanity, and in an interview with the BBC’s Misha Husain she refused to condemn violence against the Rohingya and denied that Muslims in Myanmar have been subject to ethnic cleansing. She insisted that the tensions in her country were due to a “climate of fear” caused by a “worldwide perception that global Muslim power is very great.” And apparently, according to some reports, she was angry that the BBC had chosen a Muslim to interview her.

Source: for MORE

Reprisals, Rape, and Children Burned Alive: Burma’s Rohingya Speak of Genocidal Terror

Around 21,000 Rohingya have sought refuge in Bangladesh over the past two months, as Burmese forces launched what one U.N official says is “getting very close to what we would all agree are crimes against humanity.” TIME reports from the Bangladesh border, where the full horror is only just emerging

If the Naf River could talk, which horror story would it tell first?

The narrow waterway marks the border between Burma and Bangladesh. On its western bank is the Bangladeshi province of Chittagong. To the east, Burma’s Arakan state, also known as Rakhine, home to the Buddhist-majority country’s Rohingya people, a Muslim minority described over the years as stateless, friendless and forgotten.

But if the river could remember their stories, it might speak, for example, of the night in late November when Arafa, a 25-year-old Rohingya woman, entered its waters with her five children.

She used to have six. As she talks, sitting on the threshold of a hut in a makeshift refugee camp on the Bangladeshi side of the Naf, she is surrounded by her son and four young daughters. They are a lively bunch, noisy, restless, yet shy, hiding behind their mother’s back or running in and out of the hut, as she recounts what happened to her second son.

Source: for MORE

The World’s Newest Muslim Insurgency Is Being Waged in Burma

Deadly attacks in October and November against security forces in Burma’s northern Arakan state are qualitatively different from anything that has occurred there in recent decades

Source: for MORE

Something Shocking Is Happening to Burma’s Rohingya People. Take a Look at This Timeline

 “With each passing day, the current government is starting to look more and more like the pre-2010 government”

A curtain fell on western Burma on Oct. 9, the moment after police said Islamic militants attacked three security outposts along the border with Bangladesh, killing nine officers. Since that announcement six weeks ago, more than 100 people have been killed, hundreds have been detained by the military, more than 150,000 aid-reliant people have been left without food and medical care, dozens of women claim to have been sexually assaulted, more than 1,200 buildings appear to have been razed and at least 30,000 people have fled for their lives.

Humanitarian workers and independent journalists have been banned from affected areas as the Burmese army, known locally as the Tatmadaw, carries out what it calls “clearance operations.” The government, which is headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, said that those killed were jihadists — information that was gleaned, it said, through interrogations. The government said the rape allegations were false. It said that Muslim terrorists burned down the buildings themselves in an attempt to frame the army for abuse and claim international assistance.

Counterterrorism operations are still under way in Maungdaw, the northernmost township of Arakan state, also known as Rakhine. The township is mostly populated by Rohingya Muslims, a minority that is denied citizenship and is viewed as one of the world’s most persecuted peoples. Elsewhere in the state, as in much of Burma, Buddhists are the majority. There are an estimated 1.1 million Rohingya in Burma. They are systematically denied political representation. They are demonized in the national media. They are so geographically and economically isolated that tens of thousands have fled on dangerous boat voyages, attempting to reach Malaysia.

Source: for MORE

Does Nobel Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi Want To Push Her Country’s Muslims Into the Sea?

It was late November—two weeks after the elections—and Nura Din needed to escape the They Key Pyin Internally Displaced Persons Camp. The monsoon season was over—there had been no heavy rain for weeks—and the Bay of Bengal was becoming calm again. The smuggling networks were already rumored to be kicking back into gear: Soon small fishing boats would take members of the escaping Rohingya—a Muslim community in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma—out along the Kalaman River, where they’d connect with bigger boats in the bay. Anywhere was better than here. “Wherever the boat lands,” he said, was good enough.

His parents agreed that he had to get out. Nura Din is only 13 years old, but he has four younger siblings and the international aid agencies, which are under strain dealing with refugee crises around the globe, are cutting back their food allotments to Rohingya refugees. He had heard about Myanmar’s recent national election, from which the Rohingya had been excluded, but he didn’t know anything about it. “I don’t want to live here anymore,” he said. Recently the Burmese government authorities have entered camps and punished Rohingya who speak with journalists. He was hungry in class, he said. He was hungry now, chatting with a journalist.

MORE…