۵۰۹۰بازدید
کد خبر: ۷۴۷۳۲۶
تاریخ انتشار: ۲۳ آبان ۱۳۹۶ - ۰۸:۴۷ 14 November 2017
امتیاز خبر: 84 از 100 تعداد رای دهندگان 5090
Two years ago, I remember talking to a teenage boy about Aung San Suu Kyi at a camp for displaced Rohingya families in Rakhine State, Myanmar.

In reality it functioned more like an internment camp. He couldn't leave without special permission, and without citizenship, which the government has denied the Rohingya since 1982, he had no right to go to the country's schools, universities, or access its health care.

Like so many Rohingya in Myanmar, David and his family were marooned, stateless in their own country.

Conditions in the camp were miserable, but he was optimistic about the future, and he wanted to become a teacher.

He believed everything was about to change, because Aung San Suu Kyi was about to win the election.Image

"If Aung San Suu Kyi gets the vote, we will get freedom here," he told me confidently.

"I trust Aung San Suu Kyi, Aung San Suu Kyi will help us."

His words have always stuck with me.

I put them to Aung San Suu Kyi the following week in Yangon, asking her whether she would assure this boy that she would help him, and take the opportunity to condemn what some were already calling genocide in the northwest of her country.Video:Full special report: Rohingya refugee crisis

"It is not a question of trying to exaggerate small problems into big ones, and big ones to the extent where they are totally unmanageable," she replied, declining to use the term "Rohingya".

"I'm not saying that this is a small problem, I would promise everybody who is living in this country proper protection, in accordance with the law, and in accordance with the norms of human rights."

Two years on, the Rohingya haven't got freedom. Instead, life has got much worse.

The UN now describes their treatment as "textbook ethnic cleansing".

And yet still, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace prize laureate and human rights icon, has said precious little about it.Video:Starvation and death on the beaches

Instead her government, and state media, have blamed terrorists and "fake news" for spreading misinformation, and accused Rohingya of burning their own houses down.

The argument advanced in Ms Suu Kyi's defence is that the country is still at a delicate stage in its transition to democracy, after half a decade of military junta rule.

The military retains a quarter of seats in parliament, and its officers head the powerful defence and interior ministries.

Having come so far, it would be a shame if Aung San Suu Kyi's courage and her words were to desert her now.

    Katie Stallard

Were 'The Lady', as she is known to many in Myanmar, to take too strong a stand, so this theory goes, she would be overthrown, and the generals would resume control.

"She is appalled by what she has seen. She does care deeply about this," one of her advisers told the Guardian newspaper last month. "I know that does not always come across, but she really does."

He said she was focused on fixing the problem, rather than identifying it.

But publicly identifying the problem would make a difference.

It would show the desperate families documented by Sky News, risking dangerous sea crossings to escape to already overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh, that she does care, and that the hope they invested in her election was not misplaced.

Aung San Suu Kyi has proven herself to be a woman of extraordinary courage and eloquence, who has chosen to serve her country at tremendous personal cost.

When her British husband was dying from cancer in the UK, she refused the generals' offer to leave the country and travel to his bedside, for fear that she would never be allowed to return.

It was this level of bravery, this remarkable individual determination and self-sacrifice that caused so many around the world, and within her own country, including that hopeful boy, to believe in Aung San Suu Kyi, and what we all thought she stood for.Image:

Having come so far, it would be a shame if her courage and her words were to desert her now.

Surely, this cannot be the price of the freedom and democracy she fought for.

As the head of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect told the UN recently, democracy "cannot be built on the bones of the Rohingya".

It is absolutely true that Ms Suu Kyi does not have power over the military, but she does have the power to speak out - the same power she exercised from behind those high walls during her own imprisonment.

"Please your liberty to promote ours," she asked others at the time.

Aung San Suu Kyi now has her liberty. The test of her legacy will be what she chooses to do with it.
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