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Opinions of Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Columnist: Sheikh Ahmad A. Kamaludeen

Open letter to Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar

In November 2015, you and your National League for Democracy (NLD) landslide victory signalled a new era of the rule of law, good governance, human rights, freedom and democracy.

The world was optimistic that the conscious and large scale oppression and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority would be resolved.

Contrary to the above optimism, you seemed have betrayed the principles you stood for as a Nobel Laureate. The criminal activities of the military against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the name of Buddhist nationalism have escalated like a contagion in Myanmar under your watch.

Without a slight of doubt, the Nobel Prize is widely regarded as the most prestigious award offered to those who have rendered tremendous contribution to the development of the world and mankind.

However, the current systematic, conscious and large scale ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority under your watch in Myanmar is a clear violation of the original intentions of Alfred Nobel and the Noble Peace Prize when it was awarded to you in 1991. Your silence and denial over the persecution of the Muslim minority in the country demonstrate that your sense of respect for humanity, peace, tolerance, love and compassion has been overshadowed by the primacy of cruelty.

With all the accolades you have won as a former political prisoner, Nobel Laureate, human rights activist, and de facto leader who controls state institutions like the foreign affairs, information, religious affairs and Immigration ministries, you have become a target of growing global criticism overnight because of your deliberate failure to use the huge legitimacy at your disposal to speak out against the dehumanization of the Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar military.

Thus, I write this letter on behalf of fellow grief-stricken and persecuted Muslim minority of the Rohingya.

I write this letter on behalf of Rohingya Muslim husbands and wives who have lost spouses; children and adults who have lost parents; fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters; humanitarians and humanists who have lost certain worldly desires in their efforts to care for the victims of your deliberate silence, denial of the military massacre.

I write this letter on behalf of all – concerned individuals and institutions, who for one or two reasons, could not have access to express their anxieties as a result of your lack of respect for the sanctity of human life. Yes! These are people who would spend their lives in perpetual pain and grief.

We are certainly one of those who have been deeply saddened and embarrassed not only at your deliberate silence, but also the way and manner you mischievously deny reports about the barbaric activities of the military against the Muslim minority in the country.

Lamentably, your refusal to discuss the plight of the Muslim minority ethnic group whether precipitated by internal or external forces has emboldened the military`s savagery. This has also made some countries who claim to champion the course of democracy, rule of law and human rights to condone your scheme in their own backyard while others also feel reluctant because they seem not to be directly affected.

This hypocrisy has left the Rakhine state devastated and claimed many lives and property. Your refusal to criticise the military`s barbarism does not only give rise to Islamophobia, but defamed your character as a Nobel Laureate.

The bitter reality today is that your silence and denial have, to the largest extent, changed the perception of the world about the Nobel Peace Prize Award. It confirms the suspicion by the sceptics that you have aligned with the enemies of Islam to sow seeds of discord, create dissension and spread venoms of blasphemy and mischief.

Despite your reputation as a Nobel Prize Winner, political prisoner, democracy and rights activists and opposition leader if you continue to turn a blind eye to the activities of the criminal and genocidal military junta, the world would look back and remember you not only as a genocide denier, but a criminal who stood by as thousands of Rohingya Muslim women and children are being massacred and subjected to all kinds of inhuman torture.

I therefore, use this platform in urging you and the military to gather around the normative standard of Buddhism, follow the examples of humanists like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Pope John Paul etc. These were exemplary models with infinite strength who enjoined good, forbade wrong and targeted evil unflinchingly.

This implies that you speak and critic the criminal acts by the military, urge them to lay down thier arms, negotiate peace, unconditionally, halt hostilities, reconcile, tolerate and embrace everyone peacefully devoid of pretence.

I write this letter acknowledging that there is certainly a day of reckoning, when both leaders and followers will be made to account for their stewardship. In your capacity as a Nobel Laureate, a Buddhist and de facto leader of Myanmar, you would carry the burden of moral courage to face the consequences of your deliberate silence and denial of the ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

I also hope that you would find the strength of character to stand before the whole world and beg for forgiveness. For it is only in discovering and attuning yourself to reality that the soul can find real peace, love and contentment.

It is my prayer and hope that this humble letter touches your heart to speak out and condemn the violence and bring Myanmar in its current critical situation, a step closer to peace, security, love, diversity, tolerance and development. Spend the good portion of your reputation, wealth, time, energy and talents bestowed onto you to enrich, ennoble and refine yourself, Myanmar and the world as an integrated whole.