Voices: No more Nobel for you, Kyi

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 at 3:20 PM

As the bodies of Rohingya wash up on the shores of Bangladesh, and bullets pass through the skulls of fleeing refugees, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Chancellor of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, remains tight lipped.

Tensions have flared after a Rohingya militant group attacked a paramilitary building in late August, claiming they wanted to protect their ethnic group from further ethnic cleansing by government security forces.

The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar. The group has a long history of being oppressed by the government, which views all 1.3 million of them as illegal squatters and refuses to acknowledge their citizenship. The Rohingya live under conditions reminiscent of Apartheid, where members of the minority are not allowed to marry, work or even go to school without government permission. Many are even forced to do hard manual labor without pay. Given recent attacks by militant Rohingya, the government has justified increased mistreatment of the ethnic group.

Even as the U.N calls the events in Myanmar, “bordering on the brink of genocide,” Kyi remains silent. Kyi was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1991 for her efforts as an activist against the military government that ruled over what was then Burma. However, her seeming indifference has shocked activists and drawn criticism from both the U.N. and fellow Nobel prize recipients.

In fact, many are calling for the Nobel prize committee to recent Kyi’s award.

Kyi’s actions, or more justly, inaction, is ironic given the 15 years she spent under house arrest for her criticism of the military government that ruled over Myanmar until 2012. However, her silence is not surprising given the words she’s had in the past regarding the plight of the Rohingya. Back in 2012, when she was running for a seat on the Myanmar national parliament, Kyi drew criticism for not bringing attention to the mistreatment of Rohingya.

In an interview with the BBC, she addressed this criticism, stating that she neglected to bring attention to the problems of Rohingya because she wanted to win the vote of the Bamar majority ethnic group. She uttered more troubling sentiments in a rare interview in 2013, when she claimed that the Rohingya were not even citizens of Myanmar, further propagating the ideas spread by the military government that she is opposed to.

Since the clashes between Myanmar security forces and Rohingya militants intensified on Aug. 25, the U.N. estimates that at least 1,000 Rohingya have died in the cross fire. Over a quarter million are fleeing in what the Myanmar military is calling, “clearance operations.” This is code for the razing of villages that are made up of Rohingya.

Kyi’s nonchalant attitude to the situation playing out in front of her is disgusting, to say the least. The Nobel Prize is awarded to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Since coming to power, Kyi has done little to uphold the principals of the Nobel Prize. This level of treatment of a minority group is not what I think of when I think of a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

If Kyi does not speak soon, I say 15 years of house arrest be damned. Take away her award.

Shayma Musa can be reached at voices.spectator@gmail.com. 

Tags: voices, opinion

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