Myanmar: Suu Kyi silent as Rohingya are driven out
My people are being slaughtered, said an unnamed Rohingya refugee in AlJazeera.com. In the past few weeks, Myanmar troops, aided by Buddhist mobs, have killed some 3,000 ethnic Rohingya, a Muslim minority that has lived in Rakhine state for centuries. More than 300,000 of us have fled to neighboring Bangladesh. For decades we have been oppressed; denied citizenship, jobs, and benefits; and sometimes herded into concentration camps. But when Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi took power last year, we hoped that she would speak up for us. Instead, we are being “shot dead in plain sight, forcibly and systematically made homeless, our homes razed in front of our very eyes.” Entire villages are being burned, children butchered, women raped. Suu Kyi has said nothing. “Our last hope failed us.”
Suu Kyi is actually abetting this ethnic cleansing, said Mushtak Parker in the New Straits Times (Malaysia). A Buddhist nationalist, she says the unrest in Rakhine is the fault of Rohingya militants, claiming that the small, poorly armed peasant uprising called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army is some kind of terrorist front menacing the country. Fellow Nobel laureates Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai, as well as Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama, have implored her to condemn the violence. Instead, she fuels it with incendiary Facebook posts reflecting her “phobia about Islam.” When a BBC reporter once questioned her refusal to help the Rohingya, she complained, “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim.”
Myanmar’s neighbors are no better, said The Nation (Pakistan) in an editorial. Bangladeshi guards are forcibly turning back Rohingya refugees at the border. Last month, India “decided to deport all Rohingya Muslims from its soil.” And on a recent visit to Myanmar, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed the victims, telling Suu Kyi, “We share your concerns about extremist violence in Rakhine state and especially the violence against security forces.” Apparently the Hindu nationalist Modi and Suu Kyi can agree on one thing: Muslims are the enemy.
Don’t expect Western powers to help, said Sultan Hali in the Pakistan Observer. They have every reason to look away. Rakhine state is key to China’s massive “One Belt, One Road” international infrastructure project. Huge gas deposits have been found offshore, and China intends to develop a deepwater port in Rakhine on the Bay of Bengal. It is in Western interests to try to slow or block these Chinese projects. “Inciting genocide in Rakhine could help to achieve that.” It’s up to the Muslim world, then, to act. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly offered to pay to put up the refugees in Bangladesh if Dhaka will open its borders. Other Muslim leaders should pitch in and pressure the U.N. to impose sanctions. “We cannot remain innocent bystanders while humanity is being trampled.” ■