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An Open Letter to Aung San Suu Kyi

By Sufyan bin Uzayr
April 10, 2014

“Muslims have been targeted, but also Buddhists have been subjected to violence. But there’s fear on both sides and this is what is leading to all these troubles and we would like the world to understand: that the reaction of the Buddhists is also based on fear.” – Aung San Suu Kyi

Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo: Claude TRUONG-NGOC

Dear Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi,

Thanks in part to the Internet, I have the luxury of writing this open letter to you.

Last month, at the third Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), you met with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina. Both of you discussed various issues, such as the importance of providing micro-loans to rural women and drug trafficking in the region. It was encouraging to hear that steps are being taken for the betterment of the entire region.

However, something was missing, the plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. Did you forget about them? Sheikh Hasina did allude to the Rohingya crisis, though. She told you that both Myanmar and Bangladesh need to resolve the refugee crisis, but you did not respond.

Since my assumption is that you have completely forgotten about the Rohingya people, allow me to remind you of their plight. They happen to be Burmese citizens. They are one of the most persecuted communities in the world. The United Nations describes them as “friendless,” and they are being massacred. On a side note, they also happen to have a religion that’s different from the majority of Burmese citizens, and this is why they are being killed. Essentially, Myanmar wants to eliminate the Rohingya people from its territory, and Bangladesh does not consider itself to be accountable for foreign refugees.

One can blame a lot many people for the destruction and violence towards the Rohingya people, but that’s an altogether different story. My question is, why are you silent?

I have followed your heroics ever since I was a child. As a child, I could not have fathomed what threat a single person posed to the military junta of Myanmar. After all, the junta had guns and bullets and you had just flowers! You symbolized the heart and spirit of resistance. You stood tall as the champion of freedom and democracy in your country. Your release from house arrest in 2010 marked a new era in the history of Myanmar.

As a result, your silence on the Rohingya issue is both shocking and disappointing. How can you – who has fought for the freedom of her own countrymen – be silent while an entire section of her country’s population is being killed? How can you be a mute spectator?

Your silence is shocking, Ms. Suu Kyi. And the fact that the world is silent about your silence is even more shocking. You see, it seems like nobody wishes to say anything negative towards you. After all, you are worshipped as a political hero. (The leader of the resistance.) Everyone supports the war you have waged for a ‘free’ Myanmar. However, your version of a ‘free’ Myanmar does not have room for the Rohingya people!

Since the Rohingya masses do not have many supporters, your stand is not unique, which is why I am writing this letter. You see, when it comes to the Rohingya crisis, the Bangladeshi and Burmese governments are trying their level best to evade responsibility, and the international community has chosen to be silent. You, on the other hand, could have served as a much-needed mediator. You could have facilitated a solution to this crisis by bringing the relevant players to the table and encouraging them to seek a mutual compromise. Unfortunately, you seem too busy to do that.

I know that if you were to express your willingness to help the Rohingya people, the international community would listen. But your inaction is heartbreaking.

The world rejoiced when you were released from prison. Why? Because you had fought for freedom, and your imprisonment was unjustified. Today, the Rohingya people of your country need you, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi. You have a political and moral duty towards them.

Please, try not to disappoint them!


Sufyan bin Uzayr

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