Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Rohingya Muslims

Asked whether the estimated 800,000 Rohingyas in Myanmar are considered Myanmar nationals, Nobel Peace laureate and parliamentary candidate Aung San Suu Kyi replied, “I do not know. We have to be very clear about what the laws of citizenship are and who are entitled to them.”

In an effort to provide such clarity, this reporter met with a Myanmar Interior Ministry official to get some answers:

RIGHT: Illustration courtesy of Jonathon Blakeley. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) In most countries, persons born in country to parents who have no known ancestry elsewhere are considered citizens. How is this applied in the case of the Rohingya?

Interior Ministry: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to explain. We call them “resident foreigners”. After trying for many years to show that they are really from neighboring countries, we finally have decided that they are most likely Swiss nationals that came to Myanmar and lost their passports. Unfortunately, their birth records appear to have been lost in an avalanche in Switzerland and so we cannot prove their origin. However, we are negotiating with Switzerland to repatriate them. Are there possibly other reasons that you hesitate to grant citizenship to Rohingyas?

Interior Ministry: In many countries, illegal immigrants often work for slave wages and are treated like animals. Rohingyas are often enslaved in Myanmar, and forced to live in the most deplorable conditions. We therefore suspect that they may be illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants from where? Where do they belong?

“The Rohingya Muslims are a demographic bomb for Myanmar. We want to remain Buddhist and democratic…”

Interior Ministry: I told you. They’re Swiss. And besides, they’re Muslim. The Rohingya Muslims are a demographic bomb for Myanmar. We want to remain Buddhist and democratic, and Muslim Rohingyas are a threat to our existence. Muslim self-determination has been expressed in dozens of countries. Why don’t the Muslim countries take them? They don’t belong here. But won’t you be accused of apartheid if you deny them citizenship on the basis of their ethnicity and religion?

Interior Ministry: We’re not worried. Israel gets accused of the same, and how seriously does anyone take such accusations? But isn’t it more than that? Aren’t Rohingya homes and villages being demolished and the people being slaughtered and made refugees?

Interior Ministry: Like I said, Israel… OK, OK. But Aung San Suu Kyi didn’t say for sure that Rohingyas are not entitled to Myanmar citizenship, only that we have to be clear about it. Isn’t she leaving open the possibility that they should be considered Myanmar citizens? Ms. Suu Kyi is a very rare creature: a politician with a humanitarian reputation and even a Nobel Peace Prize. She has to equivocate on Rohingyan rights. However, we are confident that just like Nobel laureates Shimon Peres and Barack Obama, she will do the right thing and overlook injustice toward undesirable populations.

Author: Barb Weir

Barb Weir is the pseudonym of a writer and social justice advocate in the San Francisco Bay Area.

8 thoughts on “Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Rohingya Muslims

  1. I wish to apologize for offending some readers. Satire should never offend and should always be uncontroversial.

    Yes, there are many persecuted people in Myanmar. I thought Aung San Suu Kyi was a champion of the persecuted, but I guess it depends upon the religion and race of the persecuted. Perhaps her Nobel Peace Prize should have a disclaimer that it does not apply to some people.

    Thank God there are better writers than me, who can avoid offending readers. I do hope they will submit some satire and help to improve the quality of this website.

    There are more than twice as many Rohingyas in Myanmar as in all other countries combined. Myanmar territory is the source of Rohingyas and their persecution in Myanmar is forcing them to become refugees in other countries. Or are you the same Interior Ministry official that I interviewed for this report?

    I’m not sure I understand about democracy and human rights. Is there too much democracy and too much respect for human rights in Myanmar? In the world? Should we reduce the amount of democracy and human rights, especially for certain people?

    Perhaps the problem is that there is not enough racism.

  2. When someone writes comparing Rohingya with Bangalee, I think Rohingya should be proud of these kind of writing. They are not comparing Rohingya with low standard people. Three Noble prize winners from Bangali where one noble prize winner from Burmese. GDP once it was very good when handover from British. But now Burma become one of the poorest country. So who brought to current level. Still shouting Nationalist themes without realizing where we are. Please come to sense.

  3. Rohingya are citizen of Myanmar or not?It,s very easy to understand that you can see the situation on Rohingya by Budhist both Rakhine and Burman since 1404 and 1784.Rohingya massacred was in 1784 and 1942.There were killed Rohingya by Burman and Rakhine alway because of Religion.Other hand Rohingya Budhist allowed to be Ethnic of Myanmar since 1948.Why not Rohingya muslim to be allowed as the Ethnic of Myanmar.Off course Rohingya are not the ethnic of Myanmar but the aborginal of Rakhine (Arakan) since thousand years before as Budhist.Rohingya never changed the country but Rohingya converted only religious.Rohingya were as the Ethnic of Myanmar until 1982.Just sutudy the history of Arakan (Rrkhine).

  4. If she ( Daw Aung San Suu Kyi)really defends Rohingyas(Bengali), that will be the end of her political carrier and role in Myanmar. 100% sure. Myanmar is not United states. Myanmar is Myanmar. We dont grant immigrant people citizenship like all asian countries. Multiculturism is not part of us and we are not a cultural pot.
    In Myanmar, people want democracy (in hope their life will be better) . But We dont need to be democratic in every aspect. Human right is the last thing we care in case of racial problems. Myanmar people shout about human rights themselve not because they want liberalism and freedom just because they are poor and junta guys are rich. That is all. About those Rohingyas(Bengali), they truely are illegal immigrants.and they created problems and robbed the land from Rakhines people .Rakhines are suffering a lot because of them. That is the reason each and every citizens hate them alot. Myanmar people are traditionally very conservative and nationalistic (racist in Westerm term).
    Anyone who support these Bengali on any ground (whatever reason) will lose its place in myanmar politic. BBC and VOA now become real enemy number one of people (once they were regarded as saviors of Myanmar people). Even Daw Su popularity decline significantly for that crisis for she stayed almost silent and did not take the Rakhine side clearly. People Look to Ko Ko Gyi (88 student) who bravely rejected Rohingya Bengali claims. The support for President U thein Sein in Rakhine and Mandalay are proof that people will back anyone (even a ex-general)who will kick those Bengali out of Myanmar. I strongly supported Daw Su for twenty years and cast my vote for NLD. However after this Bengali case, i am considering my support for NLD in coming 2015 election. I am neutral now. I really appreciate their work and effort ( NLD and Daw Su)but now i fear that she might give them(Bengali) any chance to stay on our soil to save her reputation as democracy icon and human right promoter. That is the worst fear in our mind that can not be neutralized by other benefits. I would rather see my country free of Bengali (in any form of government) than a democratic country with Bengali citizens.
    I am a doctor and liberal in any other aspect of my life. But to save my motherland Myanmar from those illegal insects, let me be soldier and racist.

  5. What a monumentally idiotic attempt at satire. Your writing style could use more than a little work, too.

    Some islam intellectuals are accusing Aung San Suu Kyi of being a politician whose eyes are fixed on landslide victory in the next elections. Do votes matter for MP Suu Kyi? Suu Kyi won a landslide victory in 1990. What happened to her? She was almost assassinated in Depeyin massacre orchestrated by the military. People of Myanmar are still worried about her life before the next election. Another landslide victory in 2015 will pose a threat to her life. What is matter for her is not votes but unity of democratic forces. She is determined to sacrifice for Myanmar.
    All the people in Myanmar, not just rohynjas, are being killed, persecuted and imprisoned. Why have some writers highlighted only the cause of Rohinjyas? Do these writers know that the military always ignites racial conflicts whenever it encounters political crises. Rakhine conflict is in the interest of the military. Everyone from international leaders to extremists fell into the trap of the military. Rakhines think the military is their saviour. A few days ago, some people in Mandalay marched in support of the plain-clothes president. When Aung San Suu Kyi came back from Europe, a group of Rakhines from the ruling party protested her accusing her of neglecting the cause of Rakhines. Then, Islamic media said she was criminally silent. However, she had already pointed out the root cause, the lack of rule of law. It doesn’t hurt Rohynjas, Rakhines. If she talks about the cause of one group, the other will be used as her assassins by the military. Even now the military, human right watchers and the Islamic propagandists are joining hands to assassinate her political reputation, and at the same time fanning the flame of racial hatred by pretending to be saviours of either Rakhines or Rohynjas.
    In addition, her position in the issue is the best for promoting racial harmony in the future. Fake photos and the blame-game articles don’t help. Don’t push her into the military trap and destroy the future of Myanmar.

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