Nobel Peace Prize Winner Ignores Genocide In Her Country


Rahma Tasnim

Jonathan Min ’19, a Bronx Science student of Burmese descent, shares his thoughts on the situation in Myanmar.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, the defacto leader of Myanmar, has done little to stop the genocide of the Rohingya, an ethnic group of Muslims, in the Rakhine State.

The Rohingya are the stateless people that inhabit the Rakhine State in Myanmar. Although they have inhabited the land for generations, the 1982 Burmese Citizenship Law has stripped them of their citizenship. In order to gain back their status as a Burmese citizen, the people must provide evidence showing that their ancestors have inhabited the land for more than three generations.

Jonathan Min ’19, a student of Burmese descent, stated that, “even if the Rohingya fulfill the requirements for citizenship, the people and especially the government will not see it [in] this way.” The Buddhist government has been systematically discriminating against them since the law was passed. This discrimination combined with the long-existing tensions with the Buddhist majority and the hyper-militant army has made it dangerous for many Rohingya to live in Myanmar.

“Rather than promoting unity and discouraging violence and civil unrest, she remains unvoiced amidst her country’s adversities.”

The increasing violence has left many Rohingya with no choice but to flee from the horrors in Myanmar to its neighboring countries. Many have fled to Bangladesh, where the shelters are overflowing with the massive amounts of refugees.

The Burmese government, I believe, holds an oligarchy with supreme power; they control the economy, news, and the military, oppression at its finest,” Min said.

Dr. Todd Davis, AP US History and AP US Government teacher, reiterates similar sentiments as Min when asked for an opinion on the topic. “I think it is appalling and disheartening that someone like Aung San Suu Kyi, or anyone with her background, experience, and profile, allows for this ethnic cleansing and genocide. It is very disconcerting and horrifying,” Dr. Davis said.

The situation is in dire need of attention from other nations. Myanmar has not cooperated (and probably will not cooperate) with the UN-mandated Fact Finding Mission, a program that investigates human rights violations. Kyi told the UN General Assembly, which she did not attend, that her government “does not fear international scrutiny.” If the Burmese government really did not fear scrutiny, it would not be denying that a genocide is occurring.

Amnesty International, a nonprofit organization focused on protecting human rights, stated, “[the Burmese government] should allow UN investigators into the country, including the Rakhine State. The government must also urgently allow humanitarian actors full and unfettered access to all areas and people in need in the region.”

When Kyi was brought into office, many believed that she was going to help the situation for the better. Unfortunately, this did not prove to be the case. In the September 2017 speech she gave in regards to the Rohingya crisis, she stated that the government had implemented programs to help the state, but there is no evidence of that.

Kyi stated, “we [the Burmese government and I] feel deeply for the suffering of all the people caught up in the conflict.” This implies that both sides are fighting. However, it is clear that one side is violently overpowering the other. Condemning the human rights violation is not enough. It necessary for the betterment of her state that she criticize the hyper-militant army that is ravaging the homes and villages of the Rohingya, because without it, the ethnic cleansing will not stop. The military campaign that the government has run to discriminate against the Rohingya and the resulting human rights violations must be put to an end. “Rather than promoting unity and discouraging violence and civil unrest, she remains unvoiced amidst her country’s adversities,” said Alif Matin ’19.