Like many I watched with joy as Aung San Suu Kyi spent two weeks traveling Europe. Throughout her house detention she won numerous awards including the Nobel Peace Prize, and while in England as well as meeting the likes of the Dalai Lama, she spoke of how her memories when studying in England helped her through her political detention.
Returning to Burma, she was greeted by chanting crowds, a mark of a true political heroine. Yet despite this, her silence on the continued persecution of the Rohingya makes her complicit in their persecution.
The Rohingya are a community of 800,000 living in the Arakan region of Burma. According to the United Nations, they are amongst the most persecuted minorities; and aside from occasional reporting, their plight, particularly in current days, remains poorly reported.
When a Buddhist woman was raped and murdered, suspicion and rumor was directed to the Rohingya community prompting hundreds of Buddhists to drag 10 Rohingya from a bus, murdering them: another cycle of violence erupted.
While some news outlets have touched on this subject, the general silence means that grassroots organizations such as Restless Beings are amongst those championing awareness via social media. Amongst their concerns is the shameless way the Bangladeshi government has turned away Rohingya who have escaped seeking refuge: men, women and children, who upon arrival are fed, before being sent back, while crying, begging, pleading not to be returned to an environment where mosques are being burned.Where children are murdered in front of their parents… where…
While Suu Kyi, the third child of Aung San - considered the father of modern-day Burma - received a standing ovation at Westminster Hall in London, asking for help to deliver, 'better lives, greater opportunities, to the people of Burma who have been for so long deprived of their rights to their place in the world;' speaking of the Rohingya, she said that she 'didn't know' if they were Burmese citizens.
If as some opine, in her desire to lead the people of Burma, she has adopted this position of uncertainty to appeal to the wider Burmese community - many of whom view the Rohingya as foreigners. Then I fear, despite her accolades of peace, and her rapturous reception here in Europe, as she now travels freely, she remains, mentally, a prisoner under house arrest.
There can be no worse head of state than one who dismisses and ignores the plight of 800,000 of her countries residents. And I fear His Holiness the Dalai Lama's words, when meeting Suu Kyi, "I have real admiration for your courage," no longer reflects the woman I once read of and admired, who in her silence on Rohingya persecution is a heroine no more.