Earlier this week, two Reuters journalists in Myanmar were convicted of violating the country’s state secrets act by a Yangon court and sentenced to seven years in jail.
The two reporters had been closely covering the news about the genocide perpetrated by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya people in the state of Rakhine right until they were arrested by the authorities in December last year.
Their conviction sparked widespread condemnation across the world, with the US and British ambassadors to Myanmar, the United Nations and the European Union all voicing their deep concerns about the court decision.
The incident has dealt a further blow to the reputation of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
It is said that Bill Richardson, the former US ambassador to the UN, brought up the case of the two journalists to Suu Kyi earlier this year, but instead of sympathizing with their plight and intervening on their behalf, she was reportedly infuriated and angrily referred to the two detainees as “traitors”.
Richardson later said he believed Suu Kyi is no longer the human rights fighter the world used to know, because it appears all she is concerned about right now is how to stay in power, hence her reluctance to rail against the military over its atrocities against the Rohingya Muslims.
So has Aung San Suu Kyi really changed like Richardson said?
Perhaps it is still premature to jump to conclusions at this point. The Rohingya issue is highly complicated.
From the point of view of the international community, Suu Kyi might be the “goddess of democracy”. However, to the Myanmar people, she is their country’s de facto leader, and is therefore duty-bound to serve the best interests of Myanmar.
Unfortunately, in this case, the Rohingya people are regarded by many native Burmese as illegal, and therefore unwelcome, immigrants from Bangladesh.
However, from a macro perspective, we firmly believe that even though it might be fair for Suu Kyi to defend the interests of her country, it doesn’t mean she is in any way justified in turning a blind eye to the ethnic cleansing committed by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya people.
As such, in order to preserve her international image as the “goddess of democracy” and prevent herself from continuing to be corrupted by power, she should do her part in helping resolve the Rohingya crisis through civilized means.
Simply put, Suu Kyi still owes the world that acknowledged her Nobel Peace Prize an explanation.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 5
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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