For over two decades, Aung San Suu Kyi has been the symbol of supreme courage and social equality in not only Myanmar but also all across the world. However, it appears there might be another, perhaps a bit unsettling, side to the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s iconic image of pro-democracy, human rights activist.
Last year, the 70-year-old stirred controversy with her deafening silence over the religious persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in her country. The genocidal campaign against the minority community, initiated by "Buddhist Bin Laden" Ashin Wirathu in 2012, forced thousands of Muslims to flee for safety. Yet, the symbol of supreme courage did not publicly condemn the massacre for fear of displeasing her dedicated supporters.
Apparently, she even lost her composure when BBC Today presenter Mishal Husain asked her to denounce the anti-Islamic sentiment and mass slaughter. In fact, the Burmese leader even complained, “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim.”
Suu Kyi reportedly made the comment during a 2013 interview when Husain asked her to condemn the wave of mob-led massacres of Muslims.
“I think there are many, many Buddhists who have also left the country for various reasons,” she replied, declining to criticize the Buddhist leaders. “This is a result of our sufferings under a dictatorial regime.”
While the interview aired on BBC a while ago, Suu Kyi’s proclamation has only just been made public, thanks to Peter Popham’s recently released book “The Lady and the Generals: Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s Struggle for Freedom.”
Unfortunately, it seems the voice of democracy in the Asian country is just as prejudiced as its oppressors.
The United Nations recently claimed 25,000 Rohingya Muslims have left refugee camps and returned to Myanmar, while the number of people still in camps for displaced people has fallen to around 120,000 from 145,000 in Rakhine State in Myanmar.