Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hurry Up, Please, it's Time . . .

"To become a truly democratic union with a spirit  of  equal rights and mutual respect, I urge all members of parliament to discuss the enactment of the laws needed to protect equal rights of ethnicities."
     -- Aung San Suu Kyi, Member of Parliament, Myanmar

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
     --Article 14, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Hurry Up Please, It’s Time
     --T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

When is she going to do something?

I’m referring, of course, to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace laureate who was recently elected to Myanmar’s Parliament, after 16 years under house arrest for advocating for human rights for the country’s minorities and marginalized citizens.

The rest of the world joined her fellow countrymen in hoping that she would now be the voice for change for Rohingya. . . but we were all sadly mistaken.

After a jaw-dropping public statement in London last month where she said she did not know if Rohingya were citizens, she has recently been named chair of “a new parliamentary committee that is to monitor and help implement the rule of law under the country’s new government.”

Her appointment to head the “Rule of Law and Tranquility Committee” was announced on Tuesday.  The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former political prisoner was elected to parliament in April, a development that was hailed as proof of progress in the former military-run country.
The committee consists of 15 lawmakers including at least five from Kachin and Rakhine states and other ethnic areas that have been gripped by conflict.
Suu Kyi’s party platform included three main objectives: to seek an end to ethnic conflicts, to try to achieve peace and rule of law and to amend the country’s constitution. --AP

Okay, I am the first to admit that even though I’ve been reading and amassing information like mad, I do not know the ins and outs of politics and the pressures on a newly-elected official to stay true to her beliefs while insuring she does not go overboard in her first months in office and get booted out, or end up in a ditch somewhere.

But my god.

I just do not know how a Nobel Peace Prize winner can take such an ambiguous stance--especially since this was her primary platform!—and then get appointed to the—what is it?  Tranquility Committee?  Heck, this woman has been locked in her house for 16 years—what has made her qualified, in that time, to make accurate assessments of how to best use her power to stop the Rohingya from being persecuted—or at least open avenues for aid agencies to help those who are starving and injured?

I thought that the reason she elected to stay in her country instead of living in exile was that on that great day when she was released she would spring into action and do something, but instead she gets on a plane goes to London and says “well, these people aren’t one of us—let ‘em starve.”

How do you sleep at night, Ms Nobel Prize winner, when your government is committing genocide? I mean, what exactly did she get the prize for?

I have been told that my rants are sometimes hot-headed, and that perhaps there are many other factors at play, and that Aung San Suu Kyi is carefully strategizing her next actions, which will deftly convince her colleagues in Parliament, and the Rakhine state leaders, military, and police, to acknowledge the rights and citizenship of the Rohingya.

In a pig’s eye.

I’m not alone.  Look at this, which came out on July 25th:

Aung San Suu Kyi facing backlash for silence on abuses
Alex Spillus, The Telegraph

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader, is facing a backlash from fellow pro-democracy campaigners who are dismayed at her refusal to speak out against abuses being committed by her country's military.

Activists who supported the world famous symbol of human rights through her years of imprisonment and isolation accuse her of staying silent on the most pressing human rights issue in Burma today – the treatment of the Rohingya, a stateless group identified by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities anywhere.

Critics contend that she has consistently dodged the subject throughout eight weeks of strife in Rakhine state in western Burma, where hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced from their homes. . . . Her refusal to criticise President Thein Sein, a former military general, for endorsing policies that could be seen as recommending ethnic cleansing have caused particular consternation.  . . . .

 “It’s disappointing, she is in a difficult position, but people have been disappointed she hasn’t been more outspoken,” said Anna Roberts, executive director of the Burma Campaign UK.

“She passed up opportunities to say good things on this,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch. “This was all blowing up when she was travelling in Europe and she didn’t confront it,” he added, referring to her recent foreign tour when the Nobel laureate was feted in London, Dublin, Paris and Oslo. . . . .

“One has to be suspicious or concerned about what her views are,” said Mr Adams. “It’s very hard to know what she thinks.” . . . .Maung Zarni, a Burmese academic who was on a panel with her at the London School of Economics in June, said: “She has been very non-committal on the issue of the Rohingya.” . . . As Ms Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy look ahead to elections in 2015, analysts have said that expressing support for the Muslim minority would be politically calamitous.  Mr Adams and others disagree. “This is an unequivocal issue, it’s something where clarity is needed. She is such an icon, she could bring a lot of public opinion with her if she went after the issue,” he said.

I can only hope that Suu Kyi is working diligently behind the scenes to assist those people for whom she pledged to fight, and that after every Parliamentary meeting she hangs up her robe, picks up the phone, and does the thing that got her the Nobel Prize.

Because if she doesn’t then she is a huge shit.

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