Suu Kyi calls for ‘culture of peace’

Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has again disappointed the international community by calling for “a culture of peace” to end the conflict in troubled Rakhine State, without mentioning the Rohingya victims.

She did not mention the Rohingya crisis in her speech to an international gathering in Kathmandu, backed by the Universal Peace Foundation, which is linked to the Unification Church.

“At the basis of conflict is ill-will which seeks to hurt and to destroy and thus to open the way to conflict, which in turn spews out an ever-renewing cycle of hate and fear, snuffing out the light of peace,” Suu Kyi said, using her trademark bland language.

“Only by promoting a culture of peace in this world of interdependence will it be possible to create harmony between diverse countries and societies,” added Suu Kyi, a specialist in platitudes.

Paris has announced it will it strip her of her honorary freedom over her failure to speak out during the Rohingya crisis, following similar moves by her former adopted home city of Oxford, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo decided to revoke the honour because of the “multiple violations of human rights recorded in Myanmar and the violence and persecution by Myanmar’s security forces against the Rohingya minority”, her staff said.

Hidalgo’s office said she wrote to Suu Kyi last year to “express her concern and call for respect for the rights of the Rohingya minority”, but no reply was received.

Under the 2008 military-drafted constitution, Myanmar’s generals retain permanent control of home affairs, defence and border areas, meaning Suu Kyi has limited scope to control the military in Rakhine State, despite winning 80 per cent of available seats in the 2015 general election.

In a precipitous fall from grace, Suu Kyi has already been stripped of her honorary Canadian citizenship and Amnesty International’s ambassador of conscience award.

A UN rights team found evidence of widespread murder, rape, torture and arson, and called for Myanmar’s generals to be prosecuted for genocide and war crimes. Suu Kyi continues to defend the military.

Despite her ongoing domestic popularity, there are signs that young liberals are finally looking beyond Suu Kyi for leadership.

According to free speech organisation Athan, “Voice” in Burmese, 44 journalists and 142 protesters have faced trial since Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) took power in April 2016.

The group’s founder, Maung Saung Kha, has faced prosecution himself for protesting in May.

Maung Saung Kha, who is still an NLD member, told the media: “The government has failed to use its power to protect people’s rights.”

Aung San Suu Kyi remains popular with many Burmese voters. Picture credit: Asean Economist