Ujjal Dosanjh

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Aung San Suu Kyi: Mayanmar's Brutal Dictators' Handmaid

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Despite being woefully belated in speaking up on the tragedy faced by the Rohingya, Prime Minister Trudeau deserves praise for his telephone call and letter to the de facto Mayanmar (Burmese) leader, Nobel laureate and honorary Canadian Aung San Suu Kyi. At least he finally spoke up where many western leaders have failed to do so.

Quite some time ago it was clear that what was happening to the Rohingyia was a classic case of ethnic cleansing: A minority deprived of citizenship and the rights that flow from it; and violently attacked by the government forces and the majority Buddhist population led by none other than the Buddhist monks. Whole Rohingyia villages were being burned and destroyed long before the world awoke to the grim catastrophe.  

Revered by the world as a saint of peace and human rights, Suu Kyi had stood disgracefully silent for several years as the killings of Rohingyia ethnic minority in the Rakhine state of Mayanmar continued unabated. She had never unequivocally condemned the violence against the Rohingyia. In recent weeks the violence has escalated. Finally the UN too has called it a "text book case of ethnic cleansing".

It took all of that and public rebukes from some of us for Justin Trudeau to pick up the phone to speak with Suu Kyi, following it up with a letter to her. In the letter the Prime Minister evoked her remarks in the 2012 Nobel lecture about the "value of kindness" and reminded her that "in order for them and your various honours to have any meaning you must defend the Rohingyia Muslims--." Under increasing world pressure, Suu Kyi promised to break her silence on Tuesday September19, 2017.

I have followed the Rohingyia tragedy for some time. Against my better judgement--and naively-- I believed she might actually condemn the atrocities against the Rohingyia. Her speech has disappointed the entire world. She didn't categorically or at all condemn the obvious, brutal and sustained violence against the Rohingyia, arguing instead the "need to find out" what is really happening. Then she went on to explain away the horrific killings by claiming that "After half a century of authoritarian rule we are --nurturing our nation" explaining the recent violence as one of the complexities. Her long awaited breach of her cowardly silence was, as Amnesty International's James Gomez said, a "mix of untruths and victim blaming."

Suu Kyi's much hyped speech has reaffirmed her thundering silence and complicity in the atrocities suffered by the Rohingyia. She is now a public collaborator in the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyia; others might simply put her down to being a cowardly witness. But for me her latest speech, absolutely mute on the violence against the Rohingyia, has solidified her role as the perfect handmaid of the brutal dictators that obviously still rule the country.

Trudeau's remark about Suu Kyi's "various honours" being meaningless unless she condemned the violence against the Rohingyia minority had clearly alluded to the meaning of her honorary Canadian citizenship; her actions and omissions have clearly rendered it meaningless.

 

It is time that Trudeau and Canada rescued the meaning of our honorary citizenship by revoking it--taking it back-- from the utterly undeserving Suu Kyi, the brutal dictators' handmaid.

@ujjaldosanjh 

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