The Quiet Fall


[Image from Aljazeera]

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Aung San Suu Kyi, anyone? The secular human rights hero, who is a hero no more. Famous for her long house arrest, for giving up everything to bring democracy to Burma, nonviolence, and a Nobel Peace Prize. They made a touching movie out of her life, for crying out loud. And now, we are here. People are rallying for her Nobel Peace Prize to be taken away. But why?

It pains me to write this, but I like to be fair. My ethics and journalism background always emphasized that you must tell the truth, no matter how inconvenient it may be. And no matter how disappointing, for that matter. One is called to truth, because only truth can hold people accountable. She was always a hero of mine (I have posted about her before), but I am deeply disappointed right now, and I don’t count her as a hero, anymore.

You have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard of the violence happening against the minority ethnic group in Burma, the Rohingya. They are a Muslim ethnic group. Many have been killed off in internment camps, others have died trying to escape Burma (now called Myanmar). The Buddhist population in Burma has treated this population like animals. Many human rights groups and international law scholars are treating this like a genocide.

This is all happening in the great Aung San Suu Kyi’s country. She has been silent. Kenneth Roth, of Human Rights Watch, has stated that he believes this is a political calculation on her part. He explained, “She is thinking, It’s not worth it, these people are too unpopular for me to bother defending.” Since 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi has been hostile to questions about human rights in her country and has avoided meetings with NGOs.

Some think that maybe we misinterpreted who she was. Many have speculated that leadership was her sole ambition, and now that she has it, everyone else can go to hell.

The New Yorker’s analysis said it perfectly:

“Aung San Suu Kyi has the benefit of having become an icon without saying a whole lot. Havel came to his position by saying a lot, by being a moral voice. Aung San Suu Kyi didn’t say much at all. She was a moral symbol, and we read into that symbol certain virtues, which turned out to be wrong when she actually started speaking.” [Quote from Kenneth Roth, HRW]

“Suu Kyi was not an intellectual, like Havel, or a freedom fighter, like Mandela, or an organizer, like Walesa. And unlike her father, she did not die before her legend could be tarnished.”

So she fought for a country to have democracy. But what good is a democracy, when it’s not for all people? When you have your own people in internment camps and you are killing them because of their ethnicity or religion? What sets her apart from other leaders (some even fascists and tyrants) who brought their countries “forward” at the expense of others? There is no difference.

Aung San Suu Kyi is NO moral hero. She is just another power hungry ambitious person allowing others to die, while standing silently by, so she can keep her own position and power.

Suu Kyi has finally spoken. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I listened.

For more:

Open Letter from of Rohingya to Aung San Suu Kyi

Where would I go? NPR On Rohingya refugees

Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

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