Is Aung San Suu Kyi an Islamophobe?
Haikal Mansor Rohingya Today

Written and documentary by Haikal Mansor

Aung San Suu Kyi, the current de-facto leader of Myanmar was born into a Bamar nationalist family. Her father General Aung San was the founder of Modern-day Myanmar Military. During the independence struggle, he fought along and was influenced by Burmese Muslim leaders such as U Razak and U Raschid and founder of Modern-day Myanmar Military General Aung San whose struggle for Independence was influenced by prominent Burmese Muslim leaders such as U Razak, U Raschid.

Following his assassination, she has followed her mother Daw Khin Kyi living and studying abroad. While at St Hugh’s, Oxford, she has fallen in love with her fellow Pakistani Muslim Tariq Hyder in 1966, which ended in “an unhappy love affair”.

On her return to Myanmar, she cofounded National League for Democracy (NLD) along with many in 1988. One of them was retired Muslim naval officer Maung Thaw Ka.

In the 1990 General Elections, she fielded four Rohingya Muslims - Abul Faiz, Mohammed Hussain, U Chit Maung and Mv. Nur Alam - from Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships under the banner of her NLD party.

She was finally released from the 15 years of house-arrest in 2010. She stepped into politics in 2012.

She came out a different person.

Here is her metamorphism.

1. Failed to field Muslim Candidates

She rejected to put Muslim candidates during the General Elections in 2015 fearing loss of Buddhist nationalist supports. For the first time in the country’s history, no Rohingya and Myanmar Muslims are in the Parliaments and the State Assemblies. 

2. Handpicked an Islamophobic Minister

She selected and promoted former Brigadier-general Thura Aung Ko to her Minister of Religious Affairs and culture. He openly stated that Muslims can never become “full citizens” and called Islam “an extremist religion”.

3. Appointed a Bigoted Spokesperson

She knowingly appointed retired major Zaw Htay, one of the Myanmar’s most prominent racists, as the Director general of her office. He flamed and spread hate and violence resulted in the 2012 campaign against Rohingya and claimed “[Muslims] terrorists coming from Bangladesh”.

4. Assigned a Junta-era Liar

She selected former diplomat Kyaw Tint Swe, a defender of Junta’s dire human rights records, as the minister of her State Counsellor office. He lied to the world at the UN, “Muslim terrorists carried out simultaneous attacks… to invoke fear among the inhabitants, to incite violence and to attract international attention.”

5. Picked a Racist Personal Lawyer

She chose Nyan Win, a racist and sociopath, as her party spokesperson and personal lawyer. He said, “There’re no facial features like Bengalis in our Myanmar, nowhere in the country. They are not from Myanmar. They are foreigners.”

6. Betrayed her position Architect 

As her legal advisor and the only constitutional expert, U Ko Ni, the most prominent Muslim legal mind created her “State Counsellor” position when the constitution barred her becoming president. It took weeks for her to speak up after he was assassinated by ex-military men at Yangon International Airport on broad daylight. 

He was “the greatest enemy [that the military] fear, not because he was a Muslim, but of course, that coloured their values, because he was the one strongly pushing for constitutional charge.”

7. ‘A Poster Girl for the Army’

Despite the primary source of Islamophobia, she shields and admires Myanmar Military. In August 2018, she said, “Our relationship with the army is not that bad. [The three military men, generals] are all rather sweet.” “People call me a poster girl for the army. I am very fond of the army,” she told BBC in 2013.

8. Designation as ‘Terrorist Organisation’

Her office declared ARSA militant group as ‘Terrorist Organisation’ on the day it attacked Myanmar Police outposts on August 25, 2017. The designation purely indicates Islamophobia as there are a dozen of Buddhist and Christian armed groups fighting for decades who are never labelled as such.

9. Blaming Muslims instead of Military

Instead of condemning the military’s gravest crimes which the U.N. described “an ongoing genocide”, she blamed Rohingya Muslims claiming that “There’s a lot of hostility there. Muslims [are] killing Muslims. It is not a matter of ethnic cleansing.”

10. ‘Rape is rife’ to ‘Fake Rape’

In May 23, 2011, she said, “Rape is rife. Rape is used as a weapon in my country by armed forces against those who only want to live in peace, [and] who only want to assert their basic human rights.”

In December 2016, her office outrageously stated that well-documented rape and sexual violence committed by Myanmar Military against hundreds of Rohingya Muslim women and girls, were ‘Fake Rape’.

11. Imprisonment for investigating ‘Rohingya Muslim Massacre’

Her government imprisoned two Reuters journalists for investigating into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys under the Official Secrets Act. They were released after more than 500 days of imprisonment while the families of massacre are denied justice.

12. ‘The Face of Buddhist Terror’

She released the arrest warrant against Wirathu – ‘The Face of Buddhist Terror’ for insulting her. However, she failed to take actions against his poisonous hate speech against Rohingya and Myanmar Muslims, spread of Islamophobia, fuelling of fear and intolerance, and incitement of deadly violence and riots against Muslims.

13. Denial of Rohingya Muslim Self-Identity

She ‘advised the US ambassador against using the term ‘Rohingya’ in May 2016. By doing so, she follows the footsteps of Myanmar’s famous Islamophobes. “The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have been long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or Natives of Arakan.” Francis Buchanan, December 26, 1799.

14. ‘No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim’

She was heard angrily saying in March 2016, “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim” after BBC’s Mishal Husain raised on her silence over the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.

15. Cosying up to the Hindu Nationalist Leader

On the visit of India’s PM Modi to Myanmar, she thanked India which sees the erosion of Democratic values and the rise of Hindu Nationalism, “for taking a strong stand on the [Muslim] terror threat that Myanmar faced recently”. 

16. Reading from the same book of Military and Buddhist Nationalists

At the heights of Islamophobia in Myanmar in 2012 which uprooted over 1400,000 Rohingya Muslims from their ancestral homes across Rakhine State, she said, “Burma claims that a lot of [Rohingya] Muslims who are now in Burma are actually people who have come over illegally from Bangladesh.” It is in total contrast to the country’s First Prime Minister U Nu’s speech broadcasted on BBS in September 1954 - “The people living in Northern Arakan are our national brethren. They are called Rohingyas. They are on the same par in the status of nationality. They are one ethnic people living within the Union of Burma.”

17. From ‘Darling of the West’ to the Europe’s Far-Right

On her visit to Hungary in June 2019, she met Viktor Orbán, one of Europe’s Far-Right figures known for his ‘xenophobic attitudes, fear and hatred’. Both stated that, “the emergence of the issue of co-existence with continuously growing Muslim populations” is “one of the greatest challenges” for both Asia and Europe.

Since Aung San Suu Kyi swore as ‘a politician’ on May 2, 2012, Rohingya Muslim Population in Myanmar has dropped from 1.33 million to 484,000.

- 120,000 Rohingya Muslims are still confined inside IDP Camps since June 2012

- 165,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar (June 2012 – October 2015)

- 87,000 Rohingya Muslims became refugees in Bangladesh (October 2016 – January 2017)

- 750,000 Rohingya Muslims were expelled into Bangladesh (August 2017 – October 2018)

- Over 33,000 children lost at least one parent and over 7,700 lost both parents (ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights APHR)

- Over 390 Rohingya villages were destroyed (UN Fact-Finding Mission)

- Thousands arbitrarily detained (independent sources)

- Impunity on extra-judicial killings

- Denial of access to Independent investigation, international media, humanitarian aid

- Endemic healthcare crisis

- Enforced Ethnic Reclassification and National Verification

- Further restriction on Freedom of Movement

- Complete ban on further education

- Partial to complete closure of mosques in Rakhine

- The frightening rise of Islamophobia across Myanmar

You may say “prizes come; prizes go”. You may seek supports of Far-right. You may defend your “father’s army”.

However, every word you utter, every promise you make, every action you take, every solidarity you show and every living-kindness you practise, will certainly impact millions of lives like you once did.

“Dear Suu Kyi, we are all a same human being, please act like one.”

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