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The noble and the Nobel

49 8 0

“SUFFERING degrades and embitters and enrages.” The words were spoken by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in 2012 in a speech delivered in Norway. Things have changed, it seems, and so has Suu Kyi. As newspapers around the world have decried, Suu Kyi along with the rest of Myanmar’s government are now presiding over a massacre of Burmese Rohingya Muslims.

On Monday, the UN secretary for human rights called it “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Suu Kyi and her ministry, however, stayed quiet. If they did speak it was to push the propaganda that the Rohingya, almost 400,000 of whom are now fleeing to save their lives, were burning their own homes.

Suu Kyi’s fellow Nobel laureates, including our own Malala Yousafzai, have questioned the silence. Surely, being honoured with a peace prize is meant to impute a certain moral standard, some moral duty to speak when others are undergoing the suffering that, in Suu Kyi’s words, degrades and embitters and enrages. Surely, the heartrending accounts of children being killed, of fleeing peasants being shot, of everyone running, of villages burning, can, regardless of political posturing, have some effect on the human soul.

Then again, one is forced to consider that this is no ordinary human soul; it is a woman who endured with great patience and fortitude years of house arrest, who refused to capitulate to the junta that imprisoned her. Even when her husband was dying abroad, Aung San Suu Kyi did not........

© Dawn