Monday, September 11, 2017

Why is Aung San Suu Kyi silent?

The current violence in Western Myanmar is just the latest (and it seems, worst) flare up, but Suu Kyi has been avoiding making any negative statement about her country's treatment of the Rohingya for more than a year. I keep wondering why not. This is my list of possibilities:

(1) She really doesn't believe that atrocities are being committed against the Rohingya because she is deep in the propaganda bubble of the Burmese military.

(2) She knows about the atrocities but thinks they are a necessary response to the threat posed by Rohingya rebels.

(3) She knows about the atrocities and wants the Rohingya to be cleansed from Myanmar.

(4) She is privately bothered by the atrocities but feels that she needs to tow the military's line because otherwise they will threaten her political power in Myanmar.

#1 and #2 are possibly the same thing because part of the military's propaganda is that the operation is a justified response to armed Rohingya rebel groups.

In any case, I usually ping-pong between believing it is #1 or #4. I guess I don't want it to be #3 because I admired her for years when she was under house arrest. But that very experience makes me wonder about #4. If she was so courageous and steadfast in resisting the Burmese generals for two decades, why would she suddenly be so cowed by the military establishment now? Now that she is in power, I guess she has more to lose. It just seems out of character. But do I really know her character?

That's the disturbing thing about all of this. Aung San Suu Kyi built such an admirable persona around herself. I find myself reluctant to give it up and it feels like a betrayal to see her acting as a passive apologist to genocide.