Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/09/13/aung-san-suu-kyi-backs-jailing.html
Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/09/13/aung-san-suu-kyi-backs-jailing.html
When I read this headline today my first response was “gee, ya think, Ms. Nobel Peace Prize winner?”:
It’s easy to make jokes about her heel turn…
Is it? I can’t imagine a joke about it - not even a bad joke. Why does this seem to happen so often?
One of her greatest powers was keeping quiet while in house arrest so the west could project whatever they wanted over her.
Falling from grace is in I guess.
My motto is wait until they are cold dead before you praise them, cuz you never know who will come forward with some horrific tale that reveals them to be a total monster.
Don’t name streets or schools after them until you know 100% for sure you won’t have to quietly remove their statues and names from monuments and schools.
American South knows all about this, and Canada is waking up to this issue as well with Mackenzie.
Hell, when I was in school, our English curriculum said Louis Riel and his Metis were savages, good that he hung. Today he is (rightly) hailed as a hero, father of a province and all around inspiration for his people.
Revisionist history? No, They got it wrong the first time and this is correcting that record.
As far as this lady goes, fuck her. She had so much global goodwill and could have parlayed that into a better future for her country … but she didn’t walk the talk and is now just one more POS in power.
Wish those that lavished her with praise and quasi-citizenship would have the balls to denounce her today.
Possibly my all time longest post here.
There are numerous problems with the “rule of law” in Myanmar. I was in the Los Angeles courtroom when a Burmese expert witness on the Myanmar legal system was brought in to help Unocal’s attempt to get Doe v. Unocal thrown out as being outside a U.S. court’s jurisdiction. It would have been, had there been opportunity for redress in the Myanmar courts. After this witness testified extensively on Myanmar’s judicial system, Judge Victoria Chaney asked a simple question: “Do you ever know of a case where the court ruled against the government’s position?”
[paraphrasing]: “Not that I can think of. It has probably never happened.”
This response meant that Unocal faced liability in Judge Chaney’s court and was likely the principal reason Unocal decided to settle the case.
At that time (and really this is still the case), “government” and “military” were inseparable as DASSK (D is for “Daw” which is roughly equivalent to the Spanish “Senora”) was still in cycles of house arrest. The regime rammed through a constitution then had the nation vote on it immediately in the wake of the worst cyclone in the history of the Indian ocean. The destruction was particularly harsh in ethnic areas of already high anti-government sentiment (likely to vote No on the constitutional item). There was virtually zero third party monitoring of this election, none allowed officially, and via unofficial observers, it was widely regarded as a sham including the vote count and armed officers looking over the shoulders of voters. That constitution permanently enshrines the military with a voting majority in parliament and excludes someone who had been married to a foreigner from holding the highest office. DASSK was under house arrest for the decade plus “constitutional convention.” So she was elected into this framework through which she can accomplish very little unless she cooperates with the generals - even with the recent “landslide victory” touted for her National League for Democracy party.
That’s certainly how it’s framed by her apologists, especially those who have business interests in the country and don’t want more sanctions. Which is to say, that’s her in the best light.
There’s this whole other dynamic to her relationship to the military. Her father is also the creator of the armed forces and seen as the father of the country. The very reason she rose to immediate popularity when she finally spoke out during the anti-dictatorship uprising (1988-1990) was her invoking that she was Aung San’s daughter. She had seen democracy at work in her years at Oxford. She both inspired and struck fear into the hearts of the military leadership, and was nearly a god figure to the Burman citizens. Then while campaigning both for the 1990 election and the NLD party she had formed with other renowned intellectuals, she traveled the border regions, paying the other ethnic groups the highest compliment both by being there and by donning their traditional dress in each place she visited.
Because she was Aung San’s daughter, at this time it was like she had a protective shield (even though they’d ultimately slam her in the state run press, put her in house arrest after that election, and attack her caravan a dozen years later). All of which is to say she was then in the very unique position of commanding respect from the military rank and file and carrying the aspirations of the common citizen to dismantle the dictatorship. It also goes to explain a little as to how/why a Nobel peace prize winner has become the leading apologist for a genocidal army. She’s not in Rakhine state, and she must believe what she’s being told by the leaders of an entity that is her father’s legacy. Basically, they wouldn’t dare lie to her or they will be haunted all of their days.
She was two when her father passed away. He was revered for a number of (mis)steps he had taken. Educated in the British-run system, he led a student uprising against British rule with a group that called themselves “Thakin” - Masters (which is to say, they nicknamed themselves to kick out the Brits and be answerable only to themselves). He then went to Japan to make a deal and receive military training with his fellow Thakins.
Aung San came back home to train others, founding what would become the armed forces. He organized the Burmese and invited imperial Japan to help them oust the British early in WWII. That didn’t turn out too well for Burma as the Japanese leadership was much worse on the Burmese, so he then organized the Burmese to revolt against the Japanese with the help of imperial Britain. He’d also extracted a promise from GB that Burma would be liberated at the end of WWII (that was kinda inevitable as we all know).
He was assassinated along with most of his cabinet at the outset of this transition. It is argued that due to their original training, the resulting army became like a permanent version of the Japanese occupying forces rather than one with any accountability to the citizens. There is more to this in terms of how Ne Win later seized power but I won’t go into it here.
Aung San Suu Kyi would be consumed by her father’s life story, becoming his biographer.
Before I go into truly criticizing DASSK, I will mention that after her callow UN speech in English, she gave one much more critical of the Burmese and military mentalities and more supportive of the Rohingya’s right to live - once she was back in Myanmar, and it was done in Burmese. Overall though…
It is perplexing. She and other highly educated Burmans are so worldly and yet so insulated. On the heels of the Saffron Revolution in 2008, I co-presented to several dozen of the leading monks from throughout Myanmar, and saw them in tears when they finally saw actual footage of what has gone on in other areas at the hands of the military. For all the suffering that has been wrought on the population of their own ethnicity, they receive almost no information on how much rougher the regime has been on villagers in the non-Burman areas. This is part of the national circumstance, partly about being focused on the buddhist practice, but it is also, I think, on them. This could be explained more via what finally woke them up in 2008 but I’ll leave that for now. But, as they are doing in the case of the Rohingya, rather than being very inquisitive about it, prior to seeing this footage I believe they had chalked what little they had heard up to the fog of war, though in reality it has nearly always been decidedly one-sided.
The other leaders of the 1988 uprising, clinging to the hope that DASSK can engineer a genuine transition, seem unable to remember that she’s depending on the same generals who exercised such control over the media, jailed poets, comics, actors and songwriters, put these leaders themselves in prison multiple times and tortured them, and later murdered a foreign reporter… and yet, out of prison and hoping to move on, they can’t seem to believe that the same forces could be capable of such unjustifiable acts as have occurred in Rakhine State. When I bring this stuff up with them, they kinda nod at their memories and say “well, that’s true.”
Aung San Suu Kyi made her in-the-bubble position abundantly clear when she told the UN: “I would like to ask the ones who have not fled why they have stayed.” But Daw Suu’s mentality is shared by the majority of the ethnic Burman citizens and the members of the military.
A word shared by leading monks can carry much more weight than one from a citizen, renowned former dissident or even a single member of the military. So, this is the only path I can think of that could ultimately help the Rohingya:
If the monks were to be moved to different position, they can move the entire nation (as they proved in 2008). The campaigns that are working abroad to raise awareness and advocate for the Rohingya, maybe instead of focusing on sanctions and punishment for more members of the military, should focus on the monks. They could persuade and fund Burmese monks based in their own countries as well as those based in Myanmar to go to Rakhine State and the refugee camps in Bangladesh with Imams or at least translators who speak the local languages and trained human rights investigators. No members of the teams conducting interviews should be from the military. Demand unfettered access and demand that DASSK get behind this. That means monks can enter an entire village with no military escort.
Maybe bring the same journalists who got the original footage shown in the Frontline episode “Myanmar’s Killing Fields.” I wish all monks would view that.
Meanwhile, the jailing of journalists is totally inexcusable. The default position needs to be that there must be extremely compelling evidence against them that would fall within the definition of a legal breach in most other nations where freedom of the press is a hallmark.
millenials have infiltrated the nobel committee, prizes are now awarded ironically
Among other garbage:
“3. (1) If any person for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State—
(a) approaches, inspects, passes over or is in the vicinity of, or enters, any prohibited place; …he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend, where the offence is committed in relation to any work of defense… to fourteen years and in other cases to three years.”
I’ve left nothing out that would reverse that meaning. If you go into an area that is controlled by the military (“any work of defense”), you can get 14 years. The entire land mass, rivers and sea are controlled by the military.
Turns out being the enemy of a bad guy doesn’t make you a good guy.
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