In March 2017, I wrote a two-part article for Pakistan Today on Aung San Suu Kyi who I have followed & written about since the genocidal assault on the Rohingya in 2012. What compelled me was a horrific report about Thailand turning back hundreds of fleeing Rohingya by towing them out to sea on boats that were not seaworthy. At the same time, Suu Kyi was being feted all over the world as a human rights icon while refusing to address the genocide going on. Governments were bowing & scraping to her as a goddess of justice while tens of thousands of Rohingya were in terror for their lives.
On close investigation, there isn’t much there to Suu Kyi’s human rights record. But there is considerable evidence of her long associations with the military, including through her father who founded the Burmese Army & her mother who served as an ambassador to India for the military dictatorship. The political party that she heads was formed after the 1988 popular national uprising (which was brutally repressed by the military) by retired high level military officers & I know that because I went through the biographies of every one present at the inauguration of that party, including Suu Kyi who was one of the few civilians present. Not a one of them had a progressive credential to their name.
Burmese capitalism is controlled, even under neoliberalism, by the military. All large-scale investment by China, Canada & other countries in mining, hydroelectric power, gas & oil, agribusiness, etc. are joint venture operations with the military which has always retained political & economic power in Burma, even under the facade of a civilian government. You don’t do business in Burma without cooperating with the military. She didn’t get to the presidency without helping the military manufacture an image of reform. Burmese capitalism was stagnant & in crisis & required massive investments. But there were military & economic sanctions imposed on Burma after their repression of the 1988 uprising which sent tens of thousands of activists to jail or into exile where they remain. To get rid of the sanctions, the military used Suu Kyi to create an image of democratic reform. Why Suu Kyi agreed is a matter for abnormal psychology to resolve. Class is directly involved but she also may have a messianic image of herself as a result of her father’s role in the formation of Burma & its military after British colonialism.
A Kashmiri friend, now living under the lockdown, is a quite sensitive person who suffered from depression & would sometimes talk to me about it. It’s hard to imagine the profound impact of this barbaric occupation on millions already stressed to the max by pellet guns, forcible disappearances, mass graves, mass rapes, arrests. There must surely be a serious mental health crisis. There are certainly grounds for prosecution in an international tribunal.
In 2012, in the midst of a genocidal assault which forced thousands of Rohingya to flee for their lives, Aung San Suu Kyi was belatedly accepting the Nobel Peace Prize awarded her in 1991. She then traveled to several other countries to be feted as a champion of human rights & to pick up bushel baskets of human rights awards. On the rare occasions when a journalist would ask her about the Rohingya, she was allowed to dodge the question.
What a contrast to 2019 when with colossal arrogance she will stand before an international tribunal to deny the genocide which is irrefutably documented, including by satellite imagery. Last week, 48 Burmese Karen groups released a joint statement of support for the Rohingya genocide case because they have suffered for decades from the systematic human rights crimes of the military. On Monday, 17 Burmese Shan organizations released a similar statement of support & urged the international community to impose economic sanctions. Before she was elected president, Suu Kyi publicly acknowledged the human rights crimes of the military, including the use of mass rape as a weapon of repression & persecution.
Who can understand the motives of Suu Kyi in rejecting her false image as a human rights champion to become the face of genocide? She won’t be allowed to dodge the questions this time but she most likely will elude justice since the lawsuit will take years to adjudicate. But history will remember her in the same league as Hitler, Stalin, Pinochet, Trump.
Photo is a beleaguered looking Suu Kyi & the legal team for the military preparing to board a flight from Burma to the Netherlands.
No one who loves birds could disagree with the Delhi High Court ruling in 2015 that birds have a fundamental right to ‘live with dignity’ & fly in the sky without being kept in cages. Birds who are a symbol of freedom lose their purpose for living & develop despondency & many other psychological & emotional problems from being caged. It was so avant-garde & humane for the Indian court to make that ruling for the welfare of birds.
But recognizing the indisputable & fundamental rights of birds strikes a strident chord when juxtaposed to the occupation & complete lockdown of Kashmiris. Don’t human beings also have indisputable & fundamental rights to dignity & freedom? Not according to the Supreme Court of India. According to the observation of Burhan Qureshi, “Kashmir is not a bird, obviously.”
(Photo is despondent parakeets in an all too common posture for caged birds. We don’t have current photos of suffering Kashmiris because of the occupation & telecommunication lockdown now in its fourth month.)
Israel’s discriminatory Law of Return gives all Jews the right to move to Israel & claim Israeli citizenship within three months of arrival. The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) being debated in the Indian Parliament excludes Muslims but makes Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, & Christian undocumented immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh & Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship & would shorten the residency requirement for citizenship
Ashfaque EJ, who pointed out the analogy, said “CAB resembles the Law of Return. So India is on the verge of becoming a Hindu Israel, not a Hindu Pakistan.”
Tomorrow, Trump will sign an executive order defining Judaism as a nationality & not just a religion. It sounds foolish since most people consider it an ethnicity but his malignant purpose is to trigger a section of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 barring schools that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or nationality. Federal funding can be withheld for any school or educational program that discriminates but the Civil Rights Act does not incorporate discrimination on the basis of religion. Where he’s headed with this order is to attack BDS on college campuses using the charge of anti-Semitism as anti-Jewish nationality.
Once again, the attacks on BDS inextricably link the Palestinian struggle to attacks on the Bill of Rights, the only section of the US Constitution worth respecting.
Aung San Suu Kyi & the Burmese legal team at the International Court of Justice at the Hague are here listening to the charges against them in the 2017 “clearance operations” involving “rapes, knifings, children thrown to the ground or burned alive.” Suu Kyi is heading up Burma’s defense team & it has been said that this will forever link the Nobel Peace Prize winner to genocide against the Rohingya people.
(Photo tweeted by John Reed, South-East Asia correspondent for Financial Times who is covering the hearings)
The Gambia, Africa lawsuit filed at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) charging Burma with genocide against the Rohingya begins today. In three days of hearings before a 16-member panel of UN judges, the lawsuit asks the ICJ to impose “provisional measures” to protect the Rohingya before the case can be heard. Aung San Suu Kyi will be heading up Burma’s legal team & is expected to deny the genocide & challenge Gambia’s legal right to pursue the case. Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh will be unable to watch the proceedings because the Bangladeshi government imposed a mobile phone & internet blackout on the refugee camps.
December 10th is UN-declared Human Rights Day & the 128th day of the complete lockdown of Kashmir. Demand the immediate release of all political prisoners & the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all Indian troops from Kashmir.
We would ask Assad propagandists & their cult followers to explain Syria’s support for China’s genocide against Uyghur Muslims but most of them outright deny any genocide is going on & call it a ‘US regime-change operation’ hoax. Just as most of them denied the Rohingya genocide. The utter hypocrisy of the US Congress in condemning the genocide is not to be taken seriously because of its murderous wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia & its interventions elsewhere. The purpose of the condemnation is the realpolitik of diplomacy against China.