93. Aung San Suu Kyi - The Apostle of Freedom in Myanmar and her handling of Rohingya Crisis.

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Who is Aung San Suu Kyi ?


Aung San Suu Kyi ( born 19 June 1945-) is a Burmese politician, diplomat, author, and a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The first and incumbent State Counsellor (a position equivalent to prime minister) of Myanmar, she is also the leader of the National League for Democracy and played a vital role in the state's transition from military junta to partial democracy.


The youngest daughter of Aung San, Father of the Nation of modern-day Myanmar, and Khin Kyi, Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon, British Burma. After graduating from the University of Delhi in 1964 and the University of Oxford in 1968, she worked at the United Nations for three years. She married Michael Aris in 1972, with whom she had two children.



Aung San Suu Kyi rose to prominence in the 1988 Uprisings, and became the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), which she had newly formed with the help of several retired army officials who criticized the military junta. In the 1990 elections, NLD won 81% of the seats in Parliament, but the results were nullified, as the military refused to hand over power, resulting in an international outcry. She had, however, already been detained under house arrest before the elections. She remained under house arrest for almost 15 of the 21 years from 1989 to 2010, becoming one of the world's most prominent political prisoners. In 1999, Time Magazine named her one of the "Children of Gandhi" and his spiritual heir to nonviolence.


Her party boycotted the 2010 elections, resulting in a decisive victory for the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party. Aung San Suu Kyi became a Pyithu Hluttaw MP while her party won 43 of the 45 vacant seats in the 2012 by-elections. In the 2015 elections, her party won a landslide victory, taking 86% of the seats in the Assembly of the Union – well more than the 67% supermajority needed to ensure that its preferred candidates were elected President and Second Vice President in the Presidential Electoral College. Although she was prohibited from becoming the President due to a clause in the constitution – her late husband and children are foreign citizens – she assumed the newly created role of State Counsellor, a role akin to a Prime Minister or a head of government.


Since ascending to the office of State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi has drawn criticism from several countries, organisations and figures over Myanmar's inaction in response to the genocide of the Rohingya people in Rakhine State and refusal to accept that Myanmar's military has committed massacres. Under her leadership, Myanmar has also drawn criticism for prosecutions of journalists.


In 2019, Suu Kyi appeared in the International Court of Justice where she defended the Burmese military against allegations of genocide against the Rohingya.


I. Early Life


Aung San Suu Kyi was two years old when her father, then the de facto prime minister of what would shortly become independent Burma, was assassinated. She attended schools in Burma until 1960, when her mother was appointed ambassador to India. After further study in India, she attended the University of Oxford, where she met her future husband, the British scholar Michael Aris. She and Aris had two children and lived a rather quiet life until 1988, when she returned to Burma to nurse her dying mother, leaving her husband and sons behind.




There the mass slaughter of protesters against the brutal and unresponsive rule of military strongman U Ne Win led her to speak out against him and to begin a nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights in that country.


II. Activism And House Arrest


In July 1989 the military government of the newly named Union of Myanmar (since 2011, Republic of the Union of Myanmar) placed Suu Kyi under house arrest in Yangon (Rangoon) and held her incommunicado. The military offered to free her if she agreed to leave Myanmar, but she refused to do so until the country was returned to civilian government and political prisoners were freed. The National League for Democracy (NLD), which Suu Kyi had cofounded in 1988, won more than 80 percent of the parliamentary seats that were contested in 1990, but the results of that election were ignored by the military government (in 2010 the military government formally annulled the results of the 1990 election).



The news that Suu Kyi was being given the Nobel Prize set off intense vilification of her by the government, and, since she was still being detained, her son, Alexander Aris, accepted the award in her place.

Suu Kyi was freed from house arrest in July 1995, although restrictions were placed on her ability to travel outside Yangon. The following year she attended the NLD party congress, but the military government continued to harass both her and her party. In 1998 she announced the formation of a representative committee that she declared was the country’s legitimate ruling parliament.


Michael Aris died in London in early 1999. Prior to his death, the military junta denied him a visa to visit Suu Kyi in Myanmar, and Suu Kyi, anticipating that she would not be allowed to reenter the country if she left, remained in Myanmar.


The junta once again placed Suu Kyi under house arrest from September 2000 to May 2002, ostensibly for having violated restrictions by attempting to travel outside Yangon. Following clashes between the NLD and pro-government demonstrators in 2003, the government returned her to house arrest. Calls for her release continued throughout the international community in the face of her sentence’s annual renewal, and in 2009 a United Nations body declared her detention illegal under Myanmar’s own law. In 2008 the conditions of her house arrest were somewhat loosened, allowing her to receive some magazines as well as letters from her children, who were both living abroad.


In May 2009, shortly before her most recent sentence was to be completed, Suu Kyi was arrested and charged with having breached the terms of her house arrest after an intruder (a U.S. citizen) entered her house compound and spent two nights there. In August she was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison, though the sentence immediately was reduced to 18 months, and she was allowed to serve it while remaining under house arrest. At the time of her conviction, the belief was widespread both within and outside Myanmar that this latest ruling was designed to prevent Suu Kyi from participating in multiparty parliamentary elections (the first since 1990) scheduled for 2010.



III. Political Power


That suspicion became reality through a series of new election laws enacted in March 2010: one prohibited individuals from any participation in elections if they had been convicted of a crime (as she had been in 2009), and another disqualified anyone who was (or had been) married to a foreign national from running for office. In support of Suu Kyi, the NLD refused to reregister under those new laws (as was required) and was disbanded.




The government parties faced little opposition in the November 7, 2010, election and easily won an overwhelming majority of legislative seats amid widespread allegations of voter fraud. Suu Kyi was released from house arrest six days after the election and vowed to continue her opposition to military rule.


IV. What is Rohingya Crisis


Myanmar Rohingya: What you need to know about the crisis - BBC


In August 2017, a deadly crackdown by Myanmar's army on Rohingya Muslims sent hundreds of thousands fleeing across the border into Bangladesh.

They risked everything to escape by sea or on foot a military offensive which the United Nations later described as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".



In January 2020, the UN's top court ordered the Buddhist-majority country to take measures to protect members of its Rohingya community from genocide.

But the army in Myanmar (formerly Burma) has said it was fighting Rohingya militants and denies targeting civilians. The country's leader Aung San Suu Kyi, once a human rights icon, has repeatedly denied allegations of genocide.


1. Who are the Rohingya?


Described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as "one of, if not the, most discriminated people in the world", the Rohingya are one of Myanmar's many ethnic minorities.



The Rohingya, who numbered around one million in Myanmar at the start of 2017, are one of the many ethnic minorities in the country. Rohingya Muslims represent the largest percentage of Muslims in Myanmar, with the majority living in Rakhine state.

They have their own language and culture and say they are descendants of Arab traders and other groups who have been in the region for generations.

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But the government of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, denies the Rohingya citizenship and even excluded them from the 2014 census, refusing to recognise them as a people.


It sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Since the 1970s, Rohingya have migrated across the region in significant numbers. Estimates of their numbers are often much higher than official figures.

In the last few years, before the latest crisis, thousands of Rohingya made perilous journeys out of Myanmar to escape communal violence or alleged abuses by the security forces.


2. Why did they flee their homes?


The exodus began on 25 August 2017 after Rohingya Arsa militants launched deadly attacks on more than 30 police posts.



Rohingyas arriving in Bangladesh said they fled after troops, backed by local Buddhist mobs, responded by burning their villages and attacking and killing civilians.

At least 6,700 Rohingya, including at least 730 children under the age of five, were killed in the month after the violence broke out, according to medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).


Amnesty International says the Myanmar military also raped and abused Rohingya women and girls.


The government, which puts the number of dead at 400, claims that "clearance operations" against the militants ended on 5 September, but BBC correspondents have seen evidence that they continued after that date.



At least 288 villages were partially or totally destroyed by fire in northern Rakhine state after August 2017, according to analysis of satellite imagery by Human Rights Watch.


The imagery shows many areas where Rohingya villages were reduced to smouldering rubble, while nearby ethnic Rakhine villages were left intact.

Human Rights Watch say most damage occurred in Maungdaw Township, between 25 August and 25 September 2017 - with many villages destroyed after 5 September, when Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said security force operations had ended.



3. What has the international response been?


A report published by UN investigators in August 2018 accused Myanmar's military of carrying out mass killings and rapes with "genocidal intent".


The ICJ case, lodged by the small Muslim-majority nation of The Gambia, in West Africa, on behalf of dozens of other Muslim countries, called for emergency measures to be taken against the Myanmar military, known as Tatmadaw, until a fuller investigation could be launched.


Aung San Suu Kyi rejected allegations of genocide when she appeared at the court in December 2019.


Rohingya Refugee Camps in Bangladesh and have look at that in below video.


https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/rohingya-crisis


V. Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar democracy icon who fell from grace

- BBC


In 1991, "The Lady", as Aung San Suu Kyi is known, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and the committee chairman called her "an outstanding example of the power of the powerless".



Pic : How did peace icon ended up in Genocide trial


But since becoming Myanmar's de facto leader in 2016 after a democratic opening up, Ms Suu Kyi has been rounded on by the same international leaders and activists who once supported her.


Outraged by the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh as a result of an army crackdown, they have accused her of doing nothing to stop rape, murder and possible genocide by refusing to condemn the powerful military or acknowledge accounts of atrocities.


Her few remaining international supporters initially tried to argue she was a pragmatic politician trying to govern a multi-ethnic country with a complex history and a Buddhist majority that holds little sympathy for the Rohingya.


But how many supporters she retains in the wake of a UN court ruling remains to be seen. Nick Beake, the BBC's Myanmar correspondent, suggests the ruling ordering the country to take emergency measures to prevent genocide has obliterated what little remained of her international reputation.


Her attempts to justify the actions of the military - which still has serious political power and refuses to relinquish control of the security forces - has destroyed the firewall which used to separate the two, he says.


It is a fall from grace for this once towering figure that few could have predicted.


Epilogue


Aung San Suu Kyi was once seen as a beacon for universal human rights - a principled activist willing to give up her freedom to stand up to the ruthless army generals who ruled Myanmar for decades.


Her attempts to justify the actions of the military is area of concern and conflicting her own earlier principles of Freedom and Independence for Myanmar People.


Whether, she will be able to resolve this Rohingya Crisis in coordination with Military Junta. Its really testing times for her and only time can tell, what is going to happen.


Whatever the future holds for her, its really Irony of Life that, Once she opposed Military Junta for the Freedom of Myanmar People, but now she has to face International trial for genocide against Rohingya Muslims by Military Junta.


Its curious to see, How Story ends.....!!



MM Rao

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Sources :

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-11685977

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Aung-San-Suu-Kyi

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aung_San_Suu_Kyi

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41566561

https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/rohingya-crisis

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