How can you displace 30,000 people, make sure 130,000 people don’t receive basic life sustaining aid, and do nothing as 27,000 people flee to Bangladesh ahead of a raping, murdering, and village destroying army? Fairly easily if you are the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize by all appearances.
In this edition of Al Jazeera’s Upfront British political journalist, Mehdi Hasan, tackles Myanmar, the Rohingya, and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Hasan starts off by pointing out that everyone loves Aung San Suu Kyi; that she has “captured the hearts of leaders across the globe.”
US President Barack Obama who abolished most of the sanctions that had been imposed against the Southeast Asian nation almost two decades earlier in an attempt to bring an end to human rights abuses in the country by the Tatmadaw would be a testament to that.
So is everything coming up Myanmar? Hasan thinks not. Citing the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and The United Sates Holocaust Memorial Museum, what is happening to the Rohingya could be “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing.” In a sing-song voice, Hasan details a few of the hardships wrought by violent Buddhist groups and a government that denies the very existence of the Rohingya race.
Yet somehow Hasan appears almost surprised that Ms Suu Kyi refuses to use the term ‘Rohingya.’ In November, at an Asean Summit Myanmar officials condemned the UN and the United States for using the term, and pressed that they should subscribe to the more biased use of “Bengali,” while condoning the denial of basic human rights to the already destitute minority.
Yes, Hasan is being incredibly critical of the leader of the newly ‘democratic’ nation, and with tongue-in-cheek and more than a dollop of sarcasm. None of which has gone down well with some viewing the video on Al Jazeera‘s Facebook page. To see the extreme blow-back, look no further than the comments.
“Ethnic cleansing? Genoside? Lol lol lol!!”
“This Biased media is trying to exaggerate the situation.”
“Our leader, mother, Aung San Suu Kyi is not turning a blind eye to Burma Rohingya’s issue.”
Just as Hasan points out, these are superb arguments in support of Ms Suu Kyi’s idea of two sides. But who of them is “slowly succumbing to starvation, despair, and disease” in refugee camps that have been labelled akin to concentration camps? (See: Life, Death, & Hope: Inside Myanmar’s Rohingya Concentration Camps)
To those Facebook users calling the media “uneducated” and “always making conflict and giving false informations (sic)…” I ask you, what do you say to veteran conflict zone photojournalist James Nachtwey who photographed the Plight of the Rohingya for Time, witnessing first-hand what is happening to a “non-existent people”.
What do you say to the UN Special Rapporteur who has been met with nothing but a brick wall of denial, instead of opening an impartial investigation that would lead to real answers and real change?
After the 1994 genocide in Rwanda the world said it would never allow another genocide to occur. Yet here it is just 22-years later doing exactly that. Perhaps the ‘world’ hadn’t counted on the next genocide being presided over by a Nobel Laureate, or perhaps it just comes down to Myanmar having more of what the world needs than Rwanda.
Feature video Al Jazeera English