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14 December, 2019 12:36:54 AM
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Suu Kyi’s defence of army puzzles ex- admirers

AP, Bangkok
Suu Kyi’s defence of army puzzles ex- admirers

What drives Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar who this week defended her country at the International Court of Justice against charges that it carried out genocide against its Muslim Rohingya minority?

There was a time when Suu Kyi was the hero of human rights advocates, whose nonviolent struggle against her country’s military dictatorship was admired by people around the world and won her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She spent a decade and a half under house arrest, more or less in solitary. She was the target of an assassination attempt. She never wavered.

Now she is seen by many of her former admirers as an apologist for war crimes. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape a brutal 2017 counterinsurgency campaign by the army, which the UN and rights groups say involved murder, mass rape and the razing by fire of entire villages.

U.N. investigators suggested the military was guilty of genocide. Myanmar denied any large-scale human rights violations and said its actions were a response to surprise attacks by militants that killed a dozen members of the security forces, a position  Suu Kyi repeated at the court in The Hague.

“Aung San Suu Kyi tried to downplay the severity of the crimes committed against the Rohingya population,” Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s regional director, said in an emailed statement. “In fact, she wouldn’t even refer to them by name or acknowledge the scale of the abuses. Such denials are deliberate, deceitful and dangerous.”

Fellow Nobel Peace laureates who once lobbied for her freedom now hold similar sentiments.

“We urge her to exercise her personal and moral responsibility towards the Rohingya and acknowledge the genocide committed under her watch,” seven of them wrote in a joint statement released Wednesday. “Aung San Suu Kyi must be held criminally responsible, along with her army commanders, for crimes committed.”

Scholars and analysts believe several factors are motivating Suu Kyi’s actions. There are signs that she shares the paranoia of many of her predominantly Buddhist countrymen about Muslims, most recently evidenced during a visit with Hungary’s right-wing leader, Viktor Orban, in which the two issued a statement saying that “coexistence with continuously growing Muslim populations” posed a challenge for their respective countries.”

Leadership runs in her blood. Bravery and sincerity accounted for much of her appeal when she helped found her party, the National League for Democracy, in 1988 during an abortive anti-military uprising. Her credibility was assured because she was the daughter of the country’s martyred founding father, Gen. Aung San, and she acts accordingly as a woman of destiny.

MK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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