Sunday, March 12, 2017

There Are People Like Bannon And Gorka In Other Countries Too-- Myanmar


A decade ago I visited Myanmar for a couple of weeks and wrote about the trip on my travel blog, although the day I got back to L.A. I drafted a short post for this blog bitching about how the military junta there had censored DWT. But all Myanmar coverage always managed to get in a plus for Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest when I was in Yangon but is now the de factor head of government (technically State Counsellor, Foreign Affairs Minister and President's Office Minister. Her victories over the military junta have been celebrated around the world. But... lately the issue of Myanmar's oppressed Muslim minority has taken a toll on her international support.
More than a dozen fellow Nobel laureates have criticised Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, for a bloody military crackdown on minority Rohingya people, warning of a tragedy “amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”

The open letter to the UN security council from a group of 23 activists, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai, warned that the army offensive had killed of hundreds of people, including children, and left women raped, houses burned and many civilians arbitrarily arrested.

It was delivered as Bangladesh announced around 50,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the violence across its border.
That was last December. Life for the Rohingya-- a minority of about a million people who, despite living in the country for generations, are treated as illegal immigrants and denied citizenship-- has gotten worse since then.
An Amnesty International report this month, based on extensive interviews with Rohingya as well as analysis of satellite imagery, claimed that actions by Myanmar’s military may constitute crimes against humanity.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent much of the past two decades under house arrest and was awarded the 1991 Nobel peace prize, won elections last November, ending decades of junta rule.

But the Myanmar armed forces, or Tatmadaw, retain significant power in Myanmar. Under the army-drafted constitution, the military controls the three most powerful government ministries: home, defence and border affairs.

Aung San Suu Kyi is foreign minister and state counsellor, as the law bars her from the presidency, which is held by her close aide Htin Kyaw. However, she is widely considered the country’s de facto leader.

The open letter said that “despite repeated appeals to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi we are frustrated that she has not taken any initiative to ensure full and equal citizenship rights of the Rohingyas. Daw Suu Kyi is the leader and is the one with the primary responsibility to lead, and lead with courage, humanity and compassion.”
Last week the UN's special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, blew the whistle on what she called "crimes against humanity."
She said the problem of abuse was "systemic" within the Burmese security forces, but said that Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government should bear some of the responsibility.

"At the end of the day it is the government, the civilian government, that has to answer and respond to these massive cases of horrific torture and very inhumane crimes they have committed against their own people."

...In camps in Bangladesh, the BBC heard allegations from recently arrived Rohingya refugees that the Burmese security forces had shot civilians, and abducted and raped young girls.

Many of the refugee accounts are supported by both satellite and video evidence.

...The spokesman for Ms Suu Kyi's political party, the National League of Democracy, Win Htein, told the BBC that under the current constitution, Ms Suu Kyi did not have the power to get the army to stop.
Tomorrow, Ms Lee will present her latest findings to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and will formally call for a Commission of Inquiry to be established, similar to the ones looking at abuses in places like North Korean and Syria.



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