Thursday, May 24, 2018

Yet Suu Kyi says not a word

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Aung San Suu Kyi has yet said not a word on the Rohingya situation. That is indeed surprising, not to mention shocking. At a time when the whole world is seized of the problem, she and the government she putatively presides over remain in their ostrich-like mode.

In recent times, demands have been made, and are still being made, for the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi to be revoked or withdrawn. These demands are being made by protesters outraged at her silence on the persecution of Rohingyas in her country.

The issue is important as it raises an ethical question. If a winner of such a prestigious prize as the Nobel subsequently turns out to be a figure who militates against the very principles she or he once held dear, it is the prize that gets tainted.

Since Suu Kyi has not spoken in defence of the Rohingyas yet, indeed since she appears to be condoning the action of the Myanmar army in killing, raping and driving out the Rohingyas from their ancestral land, her prize has lost value and will henceforth be sneered at. Should she then keep it? On her own, should she return it to the Nobel Committee?

The Nobel Committee has of course made it known that it does not take back the prizes it has already given to individuals, for these awards relate to their achievements or performance during the time in which they were given. There is a point here, to be sure.

But the Committee should at the same time be seized of the other reality, which is that one who has won the prize for peace is now presiding over a breakdown of peace in her country. Ethics comes in again. Bring in here the Nobel for Peace given to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho in 1973. It was wise on Le Duc Tho's part to decline the prize, for Vietnam was still at war.

Caught between her prize and her silence on the Rohingyas, what does Suu Kyi do? And she has not responded yet to all the criticism flying around her.

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