Rohingya crisis: Is demonisation of Aung San Suu Kyi misplaced?
Naypyidaw, Nov 4: The soft-spoken and frail looking Aung San Suu Kyi has always been a mascot of non-violence and resilience, who dedicated her life for the cause of democratic values.
Her fight against the military junta in Myanmar kept her under house arrest for almost two decades, beginning from 1989 to 2010.
Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi is one of the world's most prominent political prisoners which resulted in her worldwide fame. Suu Kyi, who is currently Myanmar's de facto leader, was honoured with the Nobel Peace prize in 1991.
Till recently, her name was invoked along with Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela whenever there was any talk about long-drawn non-violent struggles.
However, things took a U-turn, the world suddenly demonised Suu Kyi, especially the west, as the Rohingya crisis erupted resulting in the exodus of at least 605,000 minority Muslims to Bangladesh from Rakhine State. The violence in Rakhine State against the Rohingyas started on August 25.
So, what resulted in Suu Kyi's fall from grace? A person, who till recently was treated as a divine figure across the world, has been demonised globally.
The "demonisation" of the Nobel laureate has been well-explained in a column written by S Pulipaka, senior consultant with the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), New Delhi, and K Srinivasan, former foreign secretary, for The Telegraph.
The writers explained that Suu Kyi has been maintaining a cautious approach towards the alleged violence perpetrated against the Rohingyas by the military of the country as it has the potential to create political instability in the country.
It may be noted the Suu Kyi, in spite of being the head of the country, has no control over the military.
"If she makes a mis-step in her response to the Rohingya crisis, the military could align with Buddhist nationalists to unsettle her government. It is the potential for political instability and resultant chaos that prompts Suu Kyi to take a cautious position on the sectarian violence instead of the robust condemnation that would satisfy the West and their fellow critics," wrote Pulipaka and Srinivasan.
The writers stressed on the point that it was wrong to blame Suu Kyi solely for the entire Rohingya crisis, described by the United Nations (UN) as "ethnic cleansing" of minority Muslims by the Myanmar's military.
"The West-led group of nations and media, which initially treated Suu Kyi with undue deference, now subject her to derision and denunciation. They should note that the Rakhine crisis is the consequence of innumerable interconnected factors of history, domestic politics and regional dynamics. Any condemnation of human rights violations and personal criticism of Suu Kyi must first critically examine and unpack these complexities," they wrote.