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December 15, 2019

Changed fortunes


December 15, 2019

For years, in fact for decades, Aung San Suu Kyi had stood as one of the world’s best-known defenders of human rights. Today, the tables have turned. Standing in the dock at the ICJ at The Hague, she has been attempting to defend the genocide of the Rohingya by the same Myanmar military which had kept her in detention till 2010 and against which her struggle had won her the Nobel Peace Prize. Suu Kyi has insisted there has been no genocide of the Rohingya and that it was merely an attempt to tackle militancy and put down an insurgency. The case of genocide had been brought against Myanmar and Suu Kyi by Gambia.

The facts are there for all to see. There is a reason why red carpets are no longer rolled out for the Myanmar leader and why she is looked at as a reviled figure unworthy of the respect and status as a hero she once enjoyed. We have seen since 2017 images of hundreds upon hundreds of Rohingya men, women and children escaping the Rakhine province in Myanmar and crossing the border mainly into Bangladesh to save their lives. Many made the crossing in perilous situations, facing downpour or seasonal rain and carrying small children or supporting the elderly. It is estimated that thousands of Rohingya have been killed in Rakhine to suppress what the military says is an 'anti-state' uprising. These people have also faced difficulty in other countries where many have suffered sickness and injury. Aid from the rest of the world has been slow to come in and now the provision by India that Muslims are not entitled to citizenship under the country’s amended law prevents the Rohingya from attempting to move towards Bangladesh’s western border.

Their situation is a desperate one. China’s veto powers have protected Myanmar so far from international sanctions and are likely to continue doing so. Today Aung San Suu Kyi may be an isolated figure but her downfall does not help the Rohingya. They continue to live in misery. It should be the duty of nations around the world and perhaps especially Muslim countries to offer them aid and help them build a future away from the perilous situation that they live in today.

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