For a woman with such a distinctive pedigree, the only explanation for Aung San Suu Kyi’s spectacular fall from grace into a state of disgrace, dishonour and disgust is that she somehow managed to fool us all. She is the de facto leader of Myanmar, a country that has killed tens of thousands of innocent Rohingya, burning down their homes and villages, killing them in their beds, herding them through minefields and mowing them down with a brutal efficiency that would move the likes of Pol Pot, Stalin, Ratko and Hitler to nods of approval.
According to the United Nations, the actions of Suu Kyi’s government in collusion with its military forces and the roving gangs of thugs who preyed on the Rohingya populace simply because they were Muslims, is a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. What’s more, the UN says, there is enough evidence now of the horrific, bloody and brutal events of the late summer of 2017 to merit referring those responsible for the slaughter to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Indeed now, in camps along Cox’s Bazaar, where some 750,000 now survive, the Bangladeshi authorities are preparing plans to repatriate those Rohingya back to Myanmar into the safekeeping of those very military forces under Suu Kyi’s control who so brutally and efficiently killed an estimated 100,000 in days.
And still, Suu Kyi possesses the honour of being a Nobel Peace Prize awardee. It puts a serious question mark on the Nobel committee that it has not revoked that honour, for she no more deserves it with the prospect of a criminal prosecution for genocide, not unlikely at some point down the road.
At least Amnesty International had the fortitude to strip her of its highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience award.
Previously, Oxford University, Dublin City Council and other civic-minded bodies that had honoured her for her long-standing political work, stripped her of those honorary titles, but the Nobel committee still remains silent.
Here’s what Kumi Naido, the Secretary-General of Amnesty International had to say, writing in the Washington Post:
“Aung San Suu Kyi once asked Amnesty International ‘to not take either your eyes or your mind’ off Myanmar as she led a struggle against the country’s repressive military junta.
“We did exactly as requested.
“And when she ultimately rose to become the de facto leader of Myanmar’s civilian-led government in April 2016, we carried on watching — first with hope, and then with horror.
“We watched as the release of scores of prisoners of conscience gave way to renewed political arrests and clampdowns on freedom of expression.
“We watched as Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) — elected in a landslide by voters from all walks of life — cultivated narratives of hate that have fostered discrimination and intolerance rather than celebrated the country’s diversity.
“And we watched when she failed to condemn or even acknowledge the atrocities against the Rohingya population in Rakhine state — as the military killed thousands, tortured men and boys, raped women and girls, and forced hundreds of thousands out of their homes and country.
“We watched keenly, but never silently.”
That’s a pretty damning put-down of a woman who has fooled us all.
Her father was assassinated during Myanmar’s transition from British rule in July 1947, just six months before independence, when she was two.
In 1960 she went to India with her mother Daw Khin Kyi, who had been appointed Myanmar’s ambassador in New Delhi.
Four years later, she went to Oxford University in the United Kingdom, where she studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics. There she met her future husband, academic Michael Aris.
After stints of living and working in Japan and Bhutan, she settled in the UK to raise their two children, Alexander and Kim, but Myanmar was never far from her thoughts. When she arrived back in Yangon in 1988 — to look after her critically ill mother — Myanmar was in the midst of a major political upheaval. Thousands of students, office workers and monks took to the streets demanding democratic reform.
Demonstrations were brutally suppressed by the army, who seized power in a coup on September 18, 1988. Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest the following year.
The military government called national elections in May 1990, which Suu Kyi’s NLD convincingly won. However, the junta refused to hand over control.
Suu Kyi remained under house arrest in Yangon for six years, until she was released in July 1995. She was again put under house arrest in September 2000, when she tried to travel to the city of Mandalay in defiance of travel restrictions.
She was released unconditionally in May 2002, but just over a year later, she was put in prison following a clash between her supporters and a government-backed mob. She was later allowed to return home — but again under effective house arrest.
She was sidelined from Myanmar’s first elections in two decades on November 7, 2010, but released from house arrest six days later. Her son Kim Aris was allowed to visit her for the first time in a decade. As the new government embarked on a process of reform, Suu Kyi and her party rejoined the political process, winning power in a landslide in 2015.
Too bad that victory just replaced one brutal regime with another.