At least two prominent personalities have called out Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi for her silence and inaction on the plight of the Rohingya in her country.
The Muslim minority are being driven out of their land. Deemed stateless, they have been dealt with violence by the Myanmar military. Soldiers have been reported to set fire to homes and to shoot at people.
Retired South African cleric Desmond Tutu, now 85 years old, has emerged from his public silence in an open letter to Suu Kyi where he called her his “dearly beloved younger sister.”
Tutu and Suu Kyi are both recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Tutu expressed profound sadness at what is happening to the Rohingya. He reminded Suu Kyi of the injustice and sacrifice she had endured out of love for and commitment to her people. “You symbolized righteousness,” he said.
A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country, Tutu said. “It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country.”
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte slammed his critics anew and encouraged them to slam Suu Kyi instead for her inaction at the human rights violations in her country.
At a Mindanao business conference, Mr. Duterte said “human rights activists with all the hullaballoo” should look instead the Rohingya who are being brutalized in Myanmar and the Nobel laureate who was not doing anything about it.
The hullaballoo the President refers to is the outrage over the successive killings of teenagers in the police campaign against illegal drugs. Both evidence and testimony point to foul play even as some administration officials insist the boys were into drugs or some other crime— as if that would make the killings right.
But human rights violations in other parts of the world do not diminish, or make any more acceptable, acts similarly violent or nonsensical at home.
We wonder whether Suu Kyi would even pay Tutu’s letter some attention, or whether she indeed has paid the ultimate political price: silence in the face of injustice.
We wonder, too, whether President Duterte would ever realize that not all those criticizing him are out to sabotage his efforts and bring him down. Given the unbelievable simplicity with which thisadministration wants us to regard our complex issues, we are not very hopeful.