From Burmese Dissident to Mystifying Politician


Shirin Ebadi in the Wall Street Journal:

In advance of a United Nations envoy’s visit to the country, Burmese officials in June instructed U.N. officials to refer to Burma’s Muslim minority as “people who believe in Islam in Rakhine state.” This is the latest chapter in what has become a tragic campaign to reassure Buddhist nationalists that the government will continue to oppress the Rohingya—even to the point of denying them their name and citizenship in Burma.

Sadly, this campaign is being led by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

After decades of defiant activism, house arrest and unimaginable personal sacrifice, Ms. Suu Kyi is finally in a position to bring democracy to her country. Ms. Suu Kyi’s party won Burma’s national elections in November 2015, and this spring, in addition to being named foreign minister, she was appointed state counselor, the de facto prime minister. The new title effectively gives her the power to run Burma.

I’m sure it is a responsibility that my fellow Nobel peace laureate—a woman who was under house arrest off and on for more than two decades—takes very seriously. Yet those of us who spoke up for Aung San Suu Kyi those many years when her human rights were being violated—including His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu—are deeply pained that she won’t extend the same respect for human rights to Burma’s more than one million Rohingya.

Like thousands of human-rights defenders around the world, we have also called upon Burma to respect the rights of other political prisoners and minorities in Burma—including the Karen, the Shan and the Chin. Global human-rights organizations, along with courageous grass roots organizations in Burma, have documented how the Burmese military and state have suppressed these minorities through religious persecution, killings, rape, disappearances, torture and other crimes against humanity.

More here.