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The courage of Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi, the young woman who sacrificed her bed of roses while on a sojourn to Yangon to her ill mother.

When she saw young people in the streets revolting to demand democratic reform, she then entered politics to join the revolution against the dictator General Ne Win; because she had never forgotten the Burmese people, she had never forgotten the fight that her father had led.

Who is Aung San Suu Kyi ?

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese politician, diplomat, and author. She is the daughter of Aung San, a revolutionary Burmese politician who fought for the independence of Burma, and Khin Kyi, ambassador of India and Nepal in 1960.

Who is Aung San Suu Kyi’s father?

Aung San Suu Kyi’s father is the one who founded Myanmar Armed Forces in 1948. Myanmar Army is the largest army in Southeast Asia after the Vietnam Army. Its main responsibility is to conduct land and military operations. Aung San was the leader of Burma’s independence from British colonial rule.

In the late 1930s in Myanmar, during the period of British rule, groups constituted an alliance which they called Burma’s Htwer-Yet (Liberation). One of the groups, the Dobama Asiayone, commonly referred to as Thakins, was a Burmese nationalist group formed in the 1930s of disaffected young intellectuals; most were students.

The party, created by Ba Thaung, was built on traditional Buddhist aspects and new political ideals. The slogan of the association was: ‘Burma (Myanmar) is our country; Burmese literature is our literature; the Burmese language is our language. Love our country, raise the standard of our literature, respect our language.’

Aung San was a student. His peers described him as charismatic and passionate about politics. In 1936, he was expelled from the university because he refused to denounce the author of an article he had published in the student newspaper, which criticised a senior university official. The university students, therefore, launched a strike that lasted three months, until Aung San was reinstated at the university.

This event turned Aung San’s future upside down: during the strike, his name was published in newspapers across the country, and he became a revolutionary student figurehead nationwide.

In 1938, he became president of the Union of Burma Students, and of the University of Rangoon, where he studied law to enter politics. These commitments do not leave him enough time to study and he fails his exam. He then renounces the pursuit of a conventional career and enters into revolutionary politics.

Aung San was anti-British and anti-imperialist. He joined the Dobama Asiayone (We Burmans Association) and became Thakin.  Thakin means, lord or master, a title used informally for Westerners in Burma, but Burmese used it to mean that Burmese were the true masters of their country.

In 1939, Dobama Asiayone called for a national uprising against British rule. Aung San travels to China with a partner to find associates. As most of the members of the association were Communists, they sought help from the Chinese Communists, but they were detected by the Japanese authorities, who offered their cooperation. Aung San formed a secret intelligence force with the Japanese called Minami Kikan and directed by Colonel Suzuki. The plan was to close the road to Burma and support the Burmese Homeland Rebellion.

Aung San returns to Burma and enlists twenty-nine young men for military training under the Japanese army on the island of Hainan in China. The 30 men would later become known as the ‘Thirty Comrades of Myanmar History’ and were seen as the beginning of Myanmar’s modern army.

Once the Japanese invasion was ready, the soldiers recruited Burmese in Thailand and founded the Burmese Independence Army (BIA). The Japanese army and the Burma Independence Army unit ousted the British Empire and China from Burma, and in August 1943, the Japanese declared the sovereignty of the Burma state. Yet, the Burmese government held no power over the country. Many Burmese had felt that the Japanese had no intention of giving them independence and that they were being manipulated.

Anticipating the Japanese occupation, Aung San organised the Burmese Independence Army (BIA) in 1942. The BIA initially consisted of 227 Burmese and 74 Japanese, later expanded by large numbers of volunteers and recruits. He connected with communist leaders Thakin Than Tun and Thakin Soe and socialist leaders Ba Swe and Kyaw Nyein, and developed the Anti-Fascist Organisation (AFO) in 1944; after relabelled the Anti-Fascist League for Personal Freedom (AFPFL). Aung San aspired for a fairer and egalitarian society.

In 1945, the Burmese army with the succour of the allies drove out the Japanese, and after World War II, Aung San reached an agreement on Burma’s independence from Britain under ‘the Aung San-Attlee Agreement’.

Aung San was the 5th Prime Minister of the British Crown Colony of Burma from 1946 to 1947. He conducted his party, the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League, to victory in the 1947 Burmese general election, before being assassinated with almost all of his cabinet.

Aung San was murdered when Aung San Suu Kyi was only two years old. For his work towards Burmese independence and the unification of the country, Aung San was revered as the father of the nation and the national hero of modern Burma. On  4 January 1948, a few months after the assassination of Aung San, Burma obtained its independence.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Picture

In 1960, Aung San Suu Kyi went to India with her mother, Khin Kyi, who had been appointed Myanmar ambassador to Delhi. After graduating from the University of Delhi in 1964, she went to the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, where she studied philosophy, politics, and economics. There, she meets her husband, the academic Michael Aris. In 1968, she worked at the United Nations for three years, she married in 1972 and had two children.

She lived and worked in Japan and Bhutan. Then she moved to the UK with her boys, Alexander and Kim.

When she returns to Yangon in 1988 to care for her gravely ill mother, Myanmar is in the midst of political upheaval. Thousands of students, office workers and monks are on the streets demanding democratic reform.

Then begins her fight. She turned out a leader in the revolt against the then-dictator, General Ne Win.

She had never forgotten the Burmese people…

She said in a speech in Yangon in August 1988: ‘I could not, as my father’s daughter, remain indifferent to all that was going on‘.

Context

Aung San was assassinated by rivals under the leadership of U Saw, a Burmese Politician who served as Prime Minister of British Burma during the colonial era; but gained independence under U Nu, a leading Burmese statesman and nationalist politician, first Prime Minister of Burma under the Constitution of Burma of 1947.

The civilian government formed under U Nu mismanaged to maintain the country all together, there were internal problems such as corruption and ethnic insurrections which took up arms against each other.

In 1958, a division within the Anti-Fascist League for Personal Freedom (AFPFL) menaced to cause a seizure of power by the army. To circumvent this, U Nu called the military to form an interim government.

At first, the interim government seemed to seek to build a competent state: it reduced corruption, improved bureaucratic efficiency and succeeded in managing pocket armies. Pocket armies or militias is a term that emerged in the 1940s to refer to the use of militias by politicians as their own armed forces. These so-called anti-insurgency militias were made up of soldiers from armed ethnic groups who were in fact, rural villagers. In 1948, President U Nu permitted the introduction of paramilitary police reserve units known as the Sitwundan (literally ‘military load carrier’) to fight against communists and Burmese insurgents, (the Karens)  but government officials were found to be incapable to dominate some of these divisions.  

The coup of Etat of 1962

According to Ne Win, U Nu menaced the national integration of the country and it was his so-called incompetence to protect the country that motivated his coup in 1962. After the ousting, the constitution was ended and the Union Revolutionary Council (URC) was introduced by a decree named ‘The Law Protecting National Unity’. All political parties apart from the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) founded by Ne Win were expunged; the sole ruling party in Burma from 1962 to 1988.

The army overthrew the AFPFL civilian government of U Nu with the URC of Ne Win. The first period was the direct military rule from 1962 to 1974 and the second that of constitutional dictatorship from 1974 to 1988. The government was half civil-military to 18 September 1988.

Ne Win was in authority of Burma as a dictator both as President and Prime Minister of the BSSP, or head of state and head of government of the country. His politic in Burma was typified by isolationism, totalitarianism, superstition, xenophobia, and non-acceptance of Cold War political views.

The military coup of 1988

The crowd pro-democracy protests in 1988, well known as ‘the 8888 Uprising’, put pressure on BSPP officials and Ne Win to surrender and approve a multi-party system, but on 18 September 1988, the Tatmadaw realised an upheaval against the BSPP. It  terminated the demonstrations and established a new military junta, the Council for the Restoration of Public Order (SLORC).

Public support for the army had been augmented when the army respected the authority of the elected civilian government, the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL), commanded by U Nu in 1960; the public saw the elected government as corrupted and unable to run the country and return public order, with ever-growing criminal violence incidences. The military was felt as vital to ensuring the security of the country, which was crucial for the Burmese people following years of colonialism and the Second World War.

The decree ‘The Law Protecting National Unity’ was abrogated consequently the SLORC usurped power in the military uprising, later passed on to the Solidarity and Development Party of the Union, the newly put in power government, managed by its former member and Prime Minister, President Thein Sein. 

The military junta had authority for 23 years until 2011. Even if the military government acceded to Burma’s totalitarian eradication of socialism, it is the same junta which opposed the score of the 1990 elections and hold prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Saga

Political strategy

Aung San Suu Kyi was influenced by  Mahatma Gandhi’s use of non-violence. She was also inspired by Buddhism. 

First steps

Aung San Suu Kyi entered politics to lend a helping hand to the democratisation of the country.

She helped found the National League for Democracy (NLD) in September 1988, an observer party to the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats.

She organised rallies around the country, calling for peaceful democratic reform and free elections, but the demonstrations were brutally repressed by the army, which took the power in a coup d’Etat on September 2988.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s first incarceration

Following this, Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest in July 1989. The Burmese government said that Aung San Suu Kyi had been imprisoned because she was considered likely ‘to undermine the peace and stability of the country’s community, under Sections 10(a) and 10(b) of the State Protection Act 1975; this law allows the Burmese government to imprison people for up to five years without trial; and article 22,  ‘protecting the State against the dangers of those who wish to provoke subversive acts.’

He was offered to release her on the condition that she leave Burma and that she never return. 

She said: ‘As a mother, the greatest sacrifice was to give up my sons, but I was always aware that others gave up more than me. My colleagues are in jail and suffer not only physically, but also mentally for their families who have no security outside in the big Burmese prison under an authoritarian regime.

Aung San Suu Kiy Nobel Prozes

While under house arrest, she received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Aung San Suu Kyi for her nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights, considering Suu Kyi’s struggle as ‘one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades and an important symbol in the fight against oppression.’

Her sons Alexander and Kim received the Nobel Peace Prize in her name. With $1.3 million from the Nobel Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi establishes a health and education trust for the people of Burma.

In December 2007, the United States House of Representatives voted unanimously 400 to 0 to award Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal; She is the first recipient in American history to receive the award in prison.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s second incarceration

In 1990, the military government called for national elections. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won 59% of the vote, guaranteeing the NLD 80% of the seats in parliament. But the results were cancelled and the military refused to cede power.

Aung San Suu Kyi was reincarcerated. She remained under house arrest for 6 years and was released in July 1995.

Assassination attempt

Aung Sang Suu Kyi was the victim of attempted murder by the Burmese government in 1996.

200 men rushed into the procession armed with chains and metal truncheons, stones and other weapons. Criminals were reportedly paid 500 kyats (@US$0.50) each to participate.

The NLD filed a complaint with the police, but no action was taken.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s third incarceration

Aung San Suu Kyi attempted to travel to the city of Mandalay, ignoring travel restrictions. She was therefore again placed under house arrest at her home in Rangoon. She continued to appeal against her detention. Many nations and personalities demanded his release, along with that of 2,100 other political prisoners in the country. In May 2002, the United Nations (UN) secretly negotiated with the military junta for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. A government spokesman then said, ‘she was free to move because we are convinced that we can trust each other.’ She was released in May 2002 after 19 months’ imprisonment.

Second assassination attempt 

But in May 2003, she suffered a similar attack to the 1996’s. Her caravan was attacked by a government-sponsored mob in the northern village of Depayin, and several of her followers were killed or injured.

Aung San Suu Kyi managed to escape with the help of her driver but was arrested upon arriving at Ye-U.  The government imprisons her at Insein Prison in Rangoon.

In 2007, her arrest was extended for a year, despite the intervention of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan with the junta.

Aung San stays strong

In 2008, Aung San Suu Kyi met the NLD leadership. She passes a message to the population, saying: ‘We must hope for the best and prepare ourselves for the worst.’

In 2009, Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested for violating the conditions of her residence permit prohibiting visitors. On May 3, 2009, an American, John Yettaw, arrived at Aung San Suu Kyi’s home swimming by Inya Lake. He was arrested three days later while making the return trip. Yettaw said he swam Aung San Suu Kyi’s home prompted by a divine vision asking him to inform her of an impending terrorist assassination attempt and warn her that her life was ‘in danger’; and that he had attempted to do a similar trip two years earlier, but that he had been turned away.

On 13 May 2009, Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested for allowing John Mettaw to stay at home for two days before attempting to resume swimming because he said he was exhausted.

Aung San Suu Kyi was taken to Insein Prison, where she faced five years in prison for trespassing.

Her arrest and trial were contested worldwide, by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Security Council, Western governments, South Africa, Japan, and the Association of Southeast Asian nations of which Burma is a member.

The Burmese government responded by saying that ‘this umpteenth intervention created an “unhealthy tradition”; and criticised Thailand for its interference in their internal affairs.

Aung San Suu Kyi received vocal support from Western nations in Europe, Australia, North and South America, India, Israel, Japan, the Philippines and South Korea. Other countries, such as South Africa, Bangladesh, and the Maldives have also called for her release.

The United Nations encouraged the country towards inclusive national reconciliation, the restoration of democracy and full respect for human rights.

In December 2008, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the human rights situation in Burma and calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. 80 countries voted for the resolution, 25 against and 45 abstentions.

China and Russia were less critical of the regime. They declared that they only wanted to discuss economic questions.

His detention was criticised by Burma’s neighbours in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, particularly Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore. Indonesia urged China to push Burma to reform. Malaysia warns Burma that it risks being expelled from ASEAN because of the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi.  The Hatoyama government  Japanese foreign aid to encourage Burma to release Aung San Suu Kyi in time for elections and continue progress towards democracy and the rule of law.

Vietnam did not support calls from other ASEAN member states for Myanmar to release Aung San Suu Kyi. Unlike other member states, Vietnam felt that this was the country’s internal affairs and had no criticism of Myanmar’s decision to place Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for the next 18 months, effectively excluding her from the elections scheduled for 2010; but nevertheless hoped that it would continue to implement the ‘road map to democracy’ defined by its government.

Her trial and that of two of his servants began on  18 May. A small number of demonstrators were gathered outside.

During the ongoing plea, Aung San Suu Kyi declared that she was innocent. On August 11, 2009, Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to three years in prison with forced labour. This sentence was commuted by military leaders to a further 18 months house arrest. Aung San Suu Kyi appealed on the basis that her conviction was wrongful, but the appeal was dismissed on October 2, 2009. 

It was announced before the 2010 Burmese general elections that Aung San Suu Kyi could be released “so that she can organize her party” but Aung San Suu Kyi was not allowed to run. On October 1, 2010, the government announced that she would be released on November 13, 2010. On November 12, 2010, days after the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) released won the elections held after a 20-year hiatus, the junta accepted the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. She was released on 13 November  2010.

On March 30, 2016, she became Minister of the Presidency, Foreign Affairs, Education and Electric Power. Later she renounced the last two ministries. A position of State Councilor was created especially for her in April 2016, a position equivalent to that of Prime Minister. Her first initiative as a State Councilor was to pardon students arrested for opposing the national education bill. And she announced the establishment of a commission on Rakhine State. Rakhine state had a long history of persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority. Aung San was focused on seeking peace with the country’s many armed ethnic organisations, about 20 of which were engaged in active insurgencies.

The scandal of Rohingyas

After a few attacks by Rohingya militants on security facilities in 2016 and 2017, the military and police embarked on a brutal campaign against the entire group, which is alleged to have committed human rights abuses and pushed a large percentage of people to flee the country.

The 2012 Rakhine State riots were a series of conflicts between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. The riots began after the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman by three Rohingya Muslim teenagers. The police arrested the three suspects who were sent to Yanbye prison.

On June 3 a mob attacked a bus in Taungu believing those responsible for the murder were inside. Ten Muslims were killed in the attack, giving rise to protests by Burmese Muslims in the capital of Yangon. The government appointed a minister and a senior police official to a commission of inquiry who were ordered to find out the cause of the incident and take legal action. As of July 2, 30 people had been arrested for the murder of Muslims.

The June 2012 riots were marked by various attacks by Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims against their respective communities, including the destruction of property.

A state of emergency was declared in Rakhine. The army will administer the region. As of August 22, 2012, there were 88 victims, 57 Muslims and 31 Buddhists.

On March 16, 1997, in Mandalay, looting, burning of religious books, acts of sacrilege and vandalism of Muslim-owned establishments had already taken place.
A thousand Buddhist monks shouted anti-Muslim slogans as they destroyed mosques, shops and vehicles. three people were killed and a hundred monks were arrested. The unrest in Mandalay is said to have started after the attempted rape of a girl by Muslim men. The military junta at the head of Myanmar turned a blind eye to the unrest and the monks were not prevented from ransacking the mosques.

President Thein Sein asked the UN to resettle up to 1,000,000 Rohingya Muslims in refugee camps in Bangladesh or another country. NGOs deemed this to be government discrimination against the Rohingyas and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and several human rights groups, therefore opposed this proposal, which was supported by the United States and the European Union.

Hundreds of Rohingya crossed the border into Bangladesh, but many were forced to return to Burma. Dipu Moni, Bangladesh’s foreign minister, said Bangladesh lacked the capacity to accept refugees because the impoverished country’s resources are already stretched thin.

Who are Rohingyas?

The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority who practice a Sufi-inflected variation of Sunni Islam. There are an estimated 3.5 million Rohingya dispersed worldwide.

Rohingya in Myanmar are a Muslim minority ethnically linked to the Bengali people living in the neighboring district of Chittagong in Bangladesh. They make up 90% of the one million people living in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, which borders Bangladesh and includes the townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung. While the residents of northern Rakhine. The  State are predominantly Muslim, ethnic Rakhines – mostly Buddhists – make up the majority of the state’s three million people. In 1989, the military-led government changed the colonial name of Rakhine State to Rakhine.

 The Burmese government and historians claim that the Rohingya are in fact
Bengali Muslims, who will refuse to recognize the term “Rohingya”. The Rohingyas are said to have migrated from Bengal to Rakhine State in Myanmar during and after the British colonial era of 1824-1948. Some scholars have stated that they have been present in the area since the 15th century  while others argue that although some Rohingya trace their ancestry to Muslims who lived in Arakan in the 15th and 16th centuries, most arrived in the area when it was a British colony during the 19th and 20th centuries.

But experts outside Myanmar say the Rohingya have lived in Rakhine State for at least the XVth century, and perhaps even since the VIIth century. Many have argued that the Rohingya existed from the four waves of Muslim migration from ancient times through the Middle Ages, through to the British colonial period.

The Rohingya claim to be descendants of Arab traders who settled in the region several generations ago.

Leider believes the Rohingya is a political movement that started in the 1950s to create “an autonomous Muslim zone” in Rakhine. The government of Prime Minister U Nu, when Burma was a democracy from 1948 to 1962, used the term “Rohingya” in radio addresses as a part of a peace-building effort in the Mayu Frontier Region.

Neither the central government nor Rakhine’s dominant ethnic Buddhist group, known as the Rakhine, recognize the label “Rohingya,” a self-identifying term that surfaced in the 1950s, which experts say provides the group with a collective political identity. Though the etymological root of the word is disputed, the most widely accepted theory is that Rohang derives from the word “Arakan” in the Rohingya dialect and ga or gya means “from.” By identifying as Rohingya, the ethnic Muslim group asserts its ties to the land that was once under the control of the Arakan Kingdom, according to Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, a Thailand-based advocacy group.

As a result, they are seen as a source of instability in the country. The history of the Rohingya people is inevitably linked to the history of Myanmar. The country’s history helps explain the oppression of the Rohingya people today.

Myanmar is ethnically diverse.  The government lists 135 national “races” or ‘people type’ from Burmese translation, classified by ethnicity and dialect. The majority ethnic group is the Burmese, representing 68% of the population, distinct from the term “Burmese” which refers to all citizens of Myanmar. The Burmese reside
mainly in the centre of the country. others biggest groups are Burman, Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan,  mainly reside in the outer border regions of the country, also called the
Border areas and many of these ethnic minority groups live on both sides of Myanmar’s border with
neighbouring countries. As well as a few unrecognised ones, including the Rohingyas. 

The population of the western coastal province of Rakhine State is predominantly Buddhist Rakhine, about 2 million people while the Rohingya, about 1 million people are predominantly Muslim. Burmese authorities consider them undocumented immigrants and do not recognize them as citizens or as an ethnic group.

There is a history of persecution of Muslims in Myanmar that continues to the present day.

1942-1945 Japan invades British-held Burma during World War II.  The British did not trust the Burmese, so they assembled the Burma Army with minority groups divided into ethnic units, and during World War II, both groups fought on different sides; the Burmese with the Japanese and the minority groups with the British.  Muslim Rohingyas are fighting alongside the British, and many Rakhine Buddhists are siding with the Japanese. Tens of thousands of people flee the violence to what is now Bangladesh.

In 1947, the Burmese government and the Shan, Chin and Kachin ethnic groups signed the Panglong Agreement, which promised “full autonomy in the internal administration of border areas”. The constitution also suggested the possibility of independence for ethnic minorities after ten years.  Despite these promises, the Accord was never really implemented, and soon after it was signed, the military began to rule the ethnic areas by force. Ethnic groups viewed the Burma Army as an occupying force rather than a government since it stationed troops in their areas but did not provide schools, health care or other public goods. 1948 Burmese Independence. Burma becomes an independent republic. The new Parliament passes the Union Citizenship Act. It recognizes all citizens as equal. This includes the Rohingya and other minority groups. 1949 Burma sets up its first form of national identification. The government begins issuing registration cards to all citizens, including the Rohingya. 1951–1960 Burma holds three general elections. All citizens have the right to vote, including the Rohingya. Voters elect several Rohingya as members of Parliament. In 1958, the ethnic groups realize that they will not be granted the autonomy promised in the 1947 constitution and took up arms in response.  The situation changed with the 1962 Burmese coup d’état. While a few continued to serve, most Christians and Muslims were excluded from positions in the government and army.  

There are between 800,000 and 1,100,000 Rohingya in Myanmar today, 80% of whom live in Rakhine state. The Rohingya primarily reside in the two northern townships in Rakhine state–Maungdaw and Buthidaung–along the border with  Bangladesh. Rakhine Buddhists are the major population group residing in Rakhine state.  Sectarian clashes occur regularly in Rakhine State, between the majority of Rakhine Buddhists in the southern part, and the majority of Rohingya Muslims in the north. Tensions leading to violence between these two groups is a regular occurrence.   While the government has played a significant role in the oppression of the Rohingya, it has not been without the help of Burmese citizens. The colonial era created divisions between Burmese and minority ethnic groups, solidifying the separation and suspicion between races. Before colonization, Buddhist kings ruled over much of Burma. Under colonization, the British undermined many Buddhist institutions, especially schools. This ended the social and economic advantage previously enjoyed by Buddhists in Burma, creating animosity towards non-Buddhists.

The Burmese military, led by General Ne Win, overthrows the elected government and establishes military rule. Military Rule and Stripping Away Rohingya Citizenship (1970s–1980s) 1974 Burma’s military-run government enacts a new constitution. It establishes one-party rule. Later this year, Parliament passes the Emergency Immigration Act. The law limits the rights of individuals seen as “foreigners” from Bangladesh, China, and India. Authorities begin confiscating Rohingyas’ national registration cards. 1978 Burmese authorities launch Operation Naga Min, or “Dragon King,” to register and verify the status of citizens and people viewed as “foreigners.” Soldiers assault and terrorize Rohingya.  1982 Government Limits Rohingya Citizenship Parliament passes a new law, which bases citizenship on ethnicity. Creation of three levels of citizenship in Burma: Full-term citizens, Burmese, members of natives ethnic/linguistic groups, those who could prove that they were Burmese descendants of before 1823; 2 Associate Citizens, Those born in the country after 1823; 3. Naturalized citizens, are those who can supply proof that they or their parents entered and resided in Burma before independence in 1948, or have a relative with one of three types of citizenship.

1988 Pro-democracy protests flourish throughout Burma, including in Rakhine State. This leads to a brutal crackdown by the military across 1989. The government requires everyone to apply for new identification cards, called Citizenship Scrutiny Cards. Rohingya never receive the new cards.  Targeted Violence Against the Rohingya 1990. The National League for Democracy Party wins Burma’s national elections but the military refuses to recognize the results and remains in power. 1991 Violence Against the Rohingya, The Burmese military launches Operation Pyi Thaya, or “Clean and Beautiful Nation,” during which soldiers commit widespread violence. Roughly 250,000 Rohingya flee to Bangladesh. 1991–1992 The government creates a special border security force, called NaSaKa, to harass and persecute the Rohingya.  1992 Roughly 150,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh return to Burma.  1994 The government starts to deny Rohingya children birth certificates. 1995 The government issues Rohingya a new form of identification, known as a temporary registration card or “white card.” It does not serve as proof of citizenship.  Escalating Violence and Displacement (2000–2012) 2008 The government revises Burma’s constitution without input from minority group and civil society leaders. This paves the way for democratic reforms but also guarantees continued military rule. 2010 The military-backed political party wins Burma’s first national elections held since 1968. It appoints General Thein Sein as president. 

After taking power, the army set up a form of socialism in Burma. The government isolated Burma from the rest of the world suppressed dissent and kept control of the economy. The legacy of colonialism such as the fear of foreign control over the country is deeply rooted in Burmese consciousness. This fear influenced the course of Myanmar’s history, particularly its policies of socialism and strict military rule in government. While the threat of colonialism has ended, the government continues to use this fear to achieve its ends, by directing the fear towards China, the West or Islamist extremism. The Burmese government has ingrained this disdain into its citizens, using dislike for the Rohingya as a way to mobilize support. The military government used Buddhism to strengthen its authority and legitimacy. He linked Buddhism to the Burmese national identity and therefore whoever opposes Buddhism also opposes the government. Leading up to November 2015 elections, President Thein Sein has pointed to the passage of numerous discriminatory laws as evidence that he is a strong leader and should be elected for another term. His campaign is fueled, at least in part, by anti-Muslim rhetoric.  When the government conducted its first census in 30 years, there was no option for register as Rohingya, Rohingya had to register as “Bengali”.

The Burmese government censors and restricts access to information. He manipulates and uses the history of the Rohingyas to meet its own objectives. The government is using the Rohingyas to unify the Burmese people for their contempt for the Rohingyas. Rakhine Buddhists are calling for more internments and deportations of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh or the Bay of Bengal who cannot prove three generations of legal residency or nearly one million Muslims in the state. The military argues that if it withdraws from politics, unrest and violence will emerge among the Rohingya and other ethnic groups.

The Rohingya are a distinct ethnicity with their own language and culture, but claim to have a long historical connection to Rakhine State. The Rohingya are stateless people, hated in their own country and forced to live in appalling living conditions. The Rohingya were the most persecuted group under Myanmar’s military rule, followed by the Kachin, American Baptists.  The Rohingya’s lack of citizenship leads to a lack of rights and freedoms. Currently, the Rohingya are:  Forced to live in camps and ghettos; prevents access to education and health care; banned from government jobs, running for office, and voting; forced to work hard by the government;  Inability to marry without government permission, which is rarely granted; and limited in the number of children they can have.

The UN serves approximately 25,000 Rohingya who lives in official UN camps. But the majority of Rohingya live in unofficial camps or ghettos where they receive no help. Since the 2012 violence, more than 87,000 Rohingya have fled the country in rickety boats, endangering their lives on a dangerous sea passage at the hands of human traffickers. Other Southeast Asian countries, particularly Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia, have been affected by the influx of Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar,  where they struggle for jobs and in their daily lives. Each of these countries has, voluntarily or not, hosted Rohingya refugees. For the most part, they were reluctant to let the Rohingya into their countries, trying to deter them from entering or actively prevent their entry.

Many Rohingya choose to cross the border from Rakhine State into Bangladesh, where they live conditions hardly better than those they left in Myanmar. Bangladesh, as the eighth-most populous country in the world, is believed to host more than 200,000 Rohingya refugees. Many refugees have resided in Bangladesh since 1978, and migration in 199 . About 30,000 Rohingya live in registered camps in Bangladesh where they can receive assistance from the UN and other humanitarian organizations groups. The recent arrival of people fleeing persecution from Burma has raised tensions between local residents and Rohingya, generated by competition for scarce resources and employment.

At least 200,000 Rohingya live in unofficial camps or nearby villages where they receive no assistance and risk being deported to Myanmar at any time. Bangladesh has also become a second exit point for the Rohingyas, where they find a passage by boat to other countries in the region. Rohingyas are smuggled into Thailand and then suffer human trafficking abuses. Over 800,000 live in harsh conditions in Myanmar, while over 300,000 live in similar conditions in Bangladesh.

Since the last quarter of the 20th century, many Rohingya have periodically been forced to flee their homes, either to other parts of Myanmar or to other countries, due to inter-communal violence between them and the Buddhist community in Myanmar. There has been a constant cycle of Rohingya leaving Myanmar and then returning either by choice or by obligation. The Rohingyas are in a very difficult situation. They are trapped with no rights and nowhere to go. The situation of the Rohingyas is a stark reminder of Jews from Nazi Germany or apartheid-era South Africa.

Despite recent reforms supposed to lessen its power, the army has played a prominent role in political life since the 1962 coup. Since 1948, successive governments have carried out 13 military operations against the Rohingya including in 1975, 1978, 1989, 1991–92, and  2002. During the operations, Myanmar security forces drove Rohingya from their land, burned down their mosques, and committed widespread looting, arson and rape of Rohingya Muslims. Apart from these military raids, the Rohingyas are frequently victims of robbery and extortion by the authorities and subjected to forced labour. Land from Rohingya Muslims was confiscated and reallocated to local Buddhists. The country has recently enacted a number of laws considered to discriminate against Rohingyas and other minority groups. A population control law, which would allow authorities to require women in designated areas of the country to wait some time between children; A conversion law, which makes converting to another religion much more difficult; A law that discourages marriages between Buddhist women and non-Buddhist men; A law that prohibits polygamy. In August 2015, the government passes Race and Religion Laws. These laws, which relate to issues including interfaith marriage, religious conversion, and childbearing, are seen to specifically target Muslims, as well as the rights of women.

Recently, the government implemented democratic and economic reforms that improved relations with the rest of the world. Democracy has only existed in Myanmar since 2011, when the country’s military reached an agreement with the opposition, under which a free election was allowed to be held on November 8, 2015. In November 2015, Burma holds national elections, but denies Rohingya the right to vote or run for political office. On 28 May 2015 a law on population control over health care establishing a birth spacing interval of 36 months for women because of a fear that minority groups would have more children than the Buddhist majority, alarmed Rohingya couples that the law could become a model of state population control or pave the way for contraception, abortions or state-forced sterilization. Three other laws aimed at “protecting race and religion” are still before parliament and could give the authorities free rein to discriminate against women and minority groups – including the Rohingya.

Between January and May 2015,  Religious intolerance and growing discrimination made 30 000  Rohingyas flee Myanmar and Bangladesh by boat. They were intercepted and pushed back to sea on the orders of the Malaysian, Thai and Indonesian gov­ern­ments. Around 8,000 people became strand­ed at sea, and 370 of them died of disease and starvation. It was only after the situation had escalated for weeks and under growing international pressure that Indo­nesia and Malaysia changed their stance. On 20 May 2015, the two countries an­nounced that they would no longer push boats back to sea and would offer temporary shelter to the refugees. This offer was made on con­dition that the international community provided relief for the Rohingya refugees as well as financial support for processing and resettling them within one year. “Survivors describe how they flee persecution in Burma only to fall into the hands of traffickers and extortionists, in many cases witnessing deaths and suffering abuse and hunger,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Interviews with officials and others make clear that these brutal networks, with the complicity of government officials in Burma, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Malaysia

The Myanmar government’s discriminatory policies since the late 1970s have forced hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya to flee their homes in the predominantly Buddhist country.

Some activists criticized Aung San Suu Kyi for her silence on the 2012 Rakhine State riots and its indifference to the plight of the Rohingyas in the Rohingya refugee crisis in 2015. Yet on July 25, 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi made her first speech in parliament where she called for laws to protect ethnic minority rights.

Aung San Suu Kyi becomes Councilor of State, supposedly the de facto head of the Burmese government in 2016. The NLD party takes control of parliament. In September 2016 the Burmese government appoints an advisory commission, headed by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, to examine the situation between Buddhists and Rohingyas in Rakhine State. The following year, the commission made 88 recommendations to improve the situation.

October 2016 A small group of Rohingya men attack several Burmese police posts in Rakhine State, and nine officers are killed. In response, the Burmese military launches a “clearance operation,” killing people, raping women, and destroying Rohingya villages throughout northern Rakhine. The violence forces roughly 86,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.  After a Rohingya rebel group known as ARSA attacks several military posts in Rakhine, Burma’s military launches a disproportionate attack on Rohingya. Soldiers destroy several hundred Rohingya villages and more than 700,000 Rohingya flee to Bangladesh. More than 9,000 Rohingya are estimated to have been killed during the violence.

National League for Democracy The NLD called on the rioters to stop.  Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi warned that violence would continue unless “the rule of law” was restored.  She condemned “hate of any kind” in the interview. Today, many minority groups speak of the Panglong Accord in their demands, asking the government to respect the agreement.

Some local analysts believe the riots and conflict were instigated by the military, in an effort to embarrass Aung San Suu Kyi on her European tour, reassert their own authority, or distract from other conflicts involving ethnic minorities across the country.

In December 2019, Aung San Suu Kyi appeared before the International Court of Justice in The Hague where she was to respond to allegations of genocide against the Rohingya. In her speech Aung San Suu Kyi did not once use the term “Rohingya” to describe the ethnic group. She said it was actually a Burmese military response to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. Aung San says she wanted to work on reconciliation. She could not take sides because the violence had been committed on both sides.

Foreign human rights lobbyists were disappointed with his inability to take a clear stand on behalf of the Rohingya minority. International criticism for her failure to address her country’s economic and ethnic issues, particularly the plight of the Rohingya and for his style of leadership, described her as imperious and “distracted and disconnected”

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Prizes taken back

In 2017, critics called for Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Prize to be revoked, citing her silence on the persecution of Rohingyas in Myanmar.

In October 2017, Oxford City Council announced that following a unanimous all-party vote, the city’s Freedom Honour, granted in 1997 in recognition of its ‘long struggle for democracy “, was to be withdrawn following evidence from the United Nations, which meant that it was  ;no longer worthy of that honour’. A few days later, Munsur Ali, an adviser to the City of London Corporation, tabled a motion to overturn the Freedom of the City of London: the motion was seconded by Catherine McGuinness, Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee of the company, which expressed its “distress…at the situation in Burma and the atrocities committed by the Burmese military”.

On November 13, 2017, Bob Geldof returned his Dublin City Freedom Award in protest that Aung San Suu Kyi also holds the honour, stating that he “does not in any way wish to be associated with any individual currently engaged in mass ethnicity”. cleansing of the Rohingya people of northwest Burma”. Calling Aung San Suu Kyi a “handmaiden of genocide, Geldof added that he would be proud to have his award restored if it were taken from him first. Dublin City Council voted 59 to 2 (with one abstention) to revoke Aung San Suu Kyi’s City Freedom Award for Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya in December 2017, although the mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha denied that the decision was influenced by protests by Geldof and members of U2. At the same meeting, councillors voted 37-7 (with 5 abstentions) to remove Geldof’s name from the honorary freeman roll.

In March 2018, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum revoked Aung San Suu Kyi’s 2012 Elie Wiesel Award, citing her failure to “condemn and stop the army’s brutal campaign” against Rohingya Muslims.

In May 2018, Aung San Suu Kyi was considered complicit in crimes against the Rohingya in a report by the UK Committee for International Development.

In August 2018, it was revealed that Aung San Suu Kyi would be stripped of her Edinburgh Freedom Award for her refusal to speak out against crimes against the Rohingya. She received the award in 2005 for promoting peace and democracy in Burma. This will only be the second time someone has had the award taken away after Charles Stewart Parnell lost it in 1890 due to a salacious affair. Also in August, a UN report, while describing the violence as genocide, added that Aung San Suu Kyi had done as little as possible to prevent it.

In early October 2018, the Canadian Senate and its House of Commons voted unanimously to strip Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary citizenship. This decision was prompted by the Canadian government’s determination that the Myanmar government’s treatment of the Rohingya amounted to genocide.

On November 11, 2018, Amnesty International announced that it was revoking its Ambassador of Conscience award.

Has actually Myanmar a government ?

During Myanmar’s most recent election, the NLD won the majority of the country’s parliamentary seats. As the leader of the NLD, Aung San Suu Kyi is Myanmar’s de facto leader, officially named its “state counselor.” But that still doesn’t mean Aung San Suu Kyi can rein in her country’s military, which had established power years before her election and doesn’t have to answer to her. The military is guaranteed the right to appoint 25 percent of Myanmar’s parliamentary seats, giving it veto power over constitutional amendments. As a result, Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD are barred from moving the military under civilian control.

Aung San Suu Kyi trapped 

In the legislative elections on November 8, 2020, the NLD won a majority of seats in both legislative houses and was on the verge of forming the next government. His victory was denounced as being fraudulent.

The newly elected parliament was due to hold its first session on February 1, 2021, but the military took power. 

The military said it acted because of widespread fraud in the November 2020 general election, but independent poll-watching groups argued there was little evidence of this. Her supporters and rights groups say the lawsuits against her were engineered by the military to justify her takeover and prevent her from returning to politics.

 The military takeover prevented Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party from starting a second five-year term in power.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial

Two days later, Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested and deposed by the Burmese military, along with other leaders of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), after the Burmese military declared the results of the fraudulent November 2020 general election. 

On February 1, 2021,  A February 1 court order authorized his detention for 15 days, stating that soldiers searching his villa in Naypyidaw had discovered communications equipment imported without proper documentation. Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest the same evening and, on February 3, was formally charged with illegally importing at least ten walkie-talkies. She faces up to three years in prison for these charges. 

On April 1, 2021, Aung San Suu Kyi was charged with the fifth misdemeanor, a British-era colonial statute of breaching the Official Secrets Act. According to her lawyer, this is the most serious charge against her after the coup and could result in a sentence of up to 14 years in prison if convicted.  On April 12, 2021, Aung San Suu Kyi was slapped with another charge, this time “under Section 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Act”. According to his lawyer, this is his sixth indictment. She appeared in court via video link and now faces five charges in the capital Naypyidaw and one in Yangon.

On 21 May 2021, a military junta commission was formed to dissolve Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) on grounds of election fraud in the November 2020 election.

On 24 May 2021, Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in person in court for the first time since the coup to face the “incitement to sedition” charge against her. During the 30-minute hearing, she said that she was not fully aware of what was going on outside as she had no access to full information from the outside and refused to respond on the matters. She was also quoted on the possibility of her party forced dissolution as “Our party grew out of the people so it will exist as long as people support it. 

On 2 June 2021, it was reported that the military had moved her (as well as Win Myint) from their homes to an unknown location. 

On 10 June 2021, Aung San Suu Kyi was charged with corruption, the most serious charge brought against her, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment. Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers say the charges are made to keep her out of the public eye.

On 14 June 2021, the trial against Aung San Suu Kyi began. Any conviction would prevent her from running for office again. Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers attempted to have prosecution testimony against her on the sedition charge disqualified, but the motion was denied by the judge.

On 13 September 2021, court proceedings were to resume against her, but it was postponed due to Aung San Suu Kyi presenting “minor health issues” that impeded her from attending the court in person.

On 4 October 2021, Suu Kyi asked the judge to reduce her times of court appearances because of her fragile health. Suu Kyi described her health as “strained.”

In November 2021, the Myanmar courts deferred the first verdicts in the trial without further explanation or giving dates. In the same month, she was charged with another charge of corruption, related to the purchase and rental of a helicopter, amounting to nearly a dozen of charges that she faces now.

On 6 December 2021, Suu Kyi was sentenced to 4 years in jail. Suu Kyi, who is still facing multiple charges and further sentences, was sentenced on the charge of inciting dissent and violating COVID-19 protocols. Following a partial pardon by the chief of the military government, Aung San Suu Kyi’s four-year sentence was reduced to two years’ imprisonment.

New accusation charges

Police have filed a new corruption charge against Aung San Suu Kyi for allegedly receiving a $550,000 donation to a charitable foundation named after her mother, the Army Information Team said in a statement.

She is also accused of embezzling money intended for charitable donations to build a residence and of abusing her position to obtain rental properties at below-market prices for a foundation bearing her mother’s name.

The state’s Anti-Corruption Commission said several of the actions deprived the state of revenue it would otherwise have earned.

A bribery charge has yet to go to trial. Testifying as a civilian witness, detained  U Phyo Min Thein the former chief minister of Yangon, also a senior member of her National League for Democracy party., accused Aung San Suu Kyi of receiving cash and gold bars in 2017-2018 . the court  said last week that he had paid her $600,000 and 7 viss (11.4 kg) of gold. The regime accused Aung San Suu Kyi of corruption. He also alleged that the previous civilian government – the National League for Democracy (NLD) – had lost large sums in land deals. Besides Ms. Suu Kyi, who spent years under house arrest during previous periods of military rule, several other former officials face similar charges of corruption and bribery. 

In March, the regime released a video it said proved the corruption allegation against detained State Councilor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. In the video, U Phyo Min Thein says he went to meet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at least three times to give her silver and gold between December 2017 and March 2018. But the video has sparked skepticism from the audience because the Chief Minister’s lip movements were out of sync with the audio.

Aung San Suu Kyi has pleaded not guilty to charges of receiving the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and gold bars.

‘She said she didn’t take anything, and he didn’t pay her the gold or the dollars,’ U Kyi Win said.

‘She said U Phyo Min Thein was likely to have been forced [by the junta] to say so under detention,’ She rejected all the corruption allegations against her as absurd.

All of its hearings were closed to the media and the public and to prevent him from returning to politics and participating in a new election that the military has promised by 2023. 

 

 

 

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