For decades now, Myanmar’s Muslim-majority Rakhine region has been gripped by horrors and atrocities, which include crimes of rape, massacre and other brutalities. Though documented by an array of human rights organizations, Aung San Suu Kyi appears to remain utterly indifferent to the ethnic cleansing proceeding under her watch.

It is thus not surprising that the Nobel peace prize winner who after 15 years of house arrest as a political prisoner and now the effective ruler of Myanmar, is facing international criticism for failing to end the crisis.

Despite the pressure she faces to end the suffering of Muslims, Aung San Suu Kyi remains unmoved. As recently as December, more than a dozen fellow Nobel laureates wrote an open letter to the UN Security Council warning of a tragedy amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

The signatories include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Professor Muhammed Yunus, Mo Ibrahim and Romano Prodi. They have placed full responsibility on her and say that despite repeated appeals to Aung San Suu Kyi, “we are frustrated that she has not taken any initiative to ensure full and equal citizenship rights of the Rohingyas.”

The letter reminds the world that the Rohingyas are among the world’s most persecuted minorities, who for decades have been subjected to a campaign of marginalisation and dehumanisation. In 1982, their rights to citizenship were removed and they were rendered stateless, despite living in the country for generations.

Their plight worsened dramatically in 2012 when several outbreaks of violence resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands. Reports estimate that almost 75,000 were forced to flee to Bangladesh.

Aung San Suu Kyi has not only failed the Rohingya, she is increasingly seen to be reluctant to halt the army’s crackdown on human rights. Indeed a stark contrast to the woman who during her isolation, attracted global attention and support for her plight.

Sadly for the Muslims of Myanmar, her commitment to human rights will remain elusive and meaningless, unless their rights as full citizens are restored, protected and guaranteed.

Iqbal Jassat
Exec Member: Media Review Network
Johannesburg

Iqbal Jassat

Iqbal Jassat is an acclaimed writer, analyst and commentator and one of the founder members of MRN. His analysis is featured regularly in mainstream and alternate media outlets around the world.