Tutu condemns Aung San Suu Kyi's silence

President Mamnoon in Kazakhstan to attend OIC Summit

President Mamnoon in Kazakhstan to attend OIC Summit 0

We very sadly are sure that we will be hearing many more. "It is all gone".

The total population of Rohingya Muslims inside Myanmar has dropped by nearly 10 per cent in a little over a week - and as much as 25 per cent in the past 11 months - giving way to widespread worldwide concern that what is unfolding is less a targeted counter-insurgency campaign created to drive out militants, and more befitting of the term "ethnic cleansing".

It's not just the Rohingya who've been affected by the conflict. The military has started its brutal operation, which has led to more than 2,50,000 people fleeing to the neighbouring country of Bangladesh. Something in the liberal fabric of Euro-American imagination is cancerously callous.

In a separate development, Malaysia's coast guard said it will not turn away Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence and is willing to provide temporary shelter for them, the maritime agency's chief said yesterday.

The day before, the London-based Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) had launched a report in Bangkok attacking Myanmar's Buddhist majority for its "systematic persecution" of the Muslim Rohingya. Pressed on the subject by BBC journalist Mishal Husain, Ms Suu Kyi was heard to complain afterwards that no one told her she would be interviewed "by a Muslim". "I think ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening". If she is silent in the face of extreme violence then we need to do something. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described the violence as being on the verge of ethnic cleansing. It is a matter of people on different sides of a divide, and this divide we are trying to close up. Also Suu Kyi couldn't become president because both her sons hold foreign passports, a violation of the constitutional norm that require the head of state, their spouse and children to be Myanmar citizens.

The controversy can be contextualised with the Nobel for Barack Obama who was somewhat bafflingly given the prize before he was evaluated in office. Suu Kyi has a lot of work to do to help pave a way forward toward peace, prosperity, and inclusion in her country.

She has referred to the Rohingya only as a "terrorist problem" - and while they do have violent militias that commit crimes, they are no different from the militias of those other ethnic groups. They make the decision for the world. The way they are killing and torturing one of the most persecuted minorities in the world is absolutely unacceptable.

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Retired Bishop Tutu issued a letter to Suu Kyi, his fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate, in which he admonished her for not speaking out, despite her own years as a dissident prisoner.

However, the organisation that oversees the coveted prize has said the honour can not be withdrawn.

This report was released six months prior to the upsurge in violence we are witnessing now.

It was fairly predictable that the Norwegian committee would swiftly reject the appeal as the prize, once awarded, "cannot be turned down". "They don't know whom to approach to address their grievances". Otherwise the whole ceremonial spectacle is an exercise in futility.

"To deny their rightful place in Myanmar only weakens the democratic vision Aung San Suu Kyi has fought so hard for throughout her life", continued the statement.

It is not possible to strip a Nobel Peace Prize laureate of his or her award once bestowed.
That global embarrassment is necessary but not sufficient. People expect her to have that big high moral voice but she's a politician, and what's the most important objective if you are a politician?

Dismissing the Nobel Peace Prize altogether as irrelevant or too political or Eurocentric in politics and taste is of course too easy and yet too pessimistic and nihilistic. In addition to expressing our solidarity with the Rohingya - those still in Arakan, those fleeing or who have fled across the border to Bangladesh, and those scattered around the world, including here in Malaysia - we also join hands with those who are asking for an urgent response from our government, Asean and the worldwide community.

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