If not Aung San Suu Kyi, who has the power to stop Rohingya persecution?

As a flood of Rohingya refugees flee Myanmar, international attention is focused on Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Kannikar Petchkaew asks if the pressure should be on Myanmar's military


Senin, 11 Sep 2017 09:43 WIB

Burma Human Rights Network has released a report into the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar. (Photo:

Burma Human Rights Network has released a report into the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar. (Photo: Kannikar Petchkaew)

In the last two weeks, more than 150 000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar, and are now flooding into Bangladesh. They arrive hungry and exhausted, many have walked for days in search of safety.

Satellite images released by Human Rights Watch show entire villages razed to the ground. The Myanmar government blames militant groups and “terrorists.” But the Rohingya, and the international community say they’re fleeing brutal attacks at the hands of Myanmar’s military. 

Myanmar’s de facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi was once considered a champion of human rights. But she is refusing to condemn the abuses.

As the international community rages against her silence, our reporter, Kannikar Petchkaew asks if the spotlight should be turned back on the perpetrators themselves.

There’s a refugee crisis at the Bangladesh- Myanmar border. 

More than 20,000 Rohingya - people of Myanmar’s persecuted Muslim minority- have arrived in Bangladesh since August 25. 

And a “massive influx” of tens of thousands are likely to follow in coming days, according to Myanmar-based human rights group, Fortify Rights.


Of all the many ethnic groups facing human rights violations in Myanmar, the Rohingya have it the worst, according to U Kyaw Win is founder and Executive Director of the Burma Human Rights Network, based in London

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in Buddhist majority Myanmar.

A recent report from the Burma Human Rights Network shows the Rohingya face ongoing discrimination, killings, torture, and rape.

U Kyaw Win says that “There is a mindset that the Rohingya are the threat,” and Muslims are a threat to the Buddhist religion. And that mindset is fear and the acceptance of violence.

The latest humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state was sparked by a series of attacks on 30 police outposts, killing 13 members of the security forces.

Militant group, the Rohingya Salvation Army claimed the responsibility of the attack. 

Myanmar says they fighting the so-called "terrorists."

But the concern of human rights groups is that the army is indiscriminately killing civilians.

De facto head of State and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was once considered an international human rights hero. She has long been silent on the Rohingya issue, then she called their claims to rape and violence “fake.” 

Aung San Suu Kyi’s fall from grace as a defender of human rights has the international community up in arms. 

But U Kyaw Win, of Burma Human Rights Network, believes the international community is focusing on the wrong person.

He says there is only one person who has the power to stop the killing and persecution of Rohingya. 

“I think only one person can stop what is going on today in Burma, is not Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It is General Min Aung Hlaing,” he argued.

Min Aung Hlaing is the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s army. It is widely believed that it is the army that is burning villages, and carrying out the killings, and the torture. 

Win continued, “one order is enough to stop everything and he [Hlaing] is not going to do this. So international communities should focus on him [Hlaing], rather than Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.”

Myanmar has, until recently, long lived under the control of the military junta. And the military remains incredibly powerful in the country’s politics. Perhaps more powerful than Aung San Suu Kyi. 

As human rights violations continue army leader Min Aung Hlaing has been meeting international leaders. He has just finished a trip to India and Thailand, where he met with Prime Ministers and government.

And he has stated a clear position. He refuses to acknowledge Rohingya as Myanmar nationals, even though they have lived in the country for generations. Instead, he considers them illegal Bengali immigrants.

“We have already let the world know that we don’t have Rohingya in our country,” Hlaing stated. 

“The Bengalis in Rakhine state are not Myanmar citizens and they are just people who come and stay in the country. We have a duty to do what we should do, according to law, we also have a duty to protect our sovereignty when it is harmed by political, religious and racial problems.”

The Myanmar army occupies key positions in the government, and Army Commander-In-Chief Min Aung Hlaing controls key ministries. 

Rather than focusing on State Councilor, Aung San Suu Kyi, Min U Kyaw Win argues the international community should put pressure directly on the Myanmar army.


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