The famed American publication also said that Suu Kyi’s champions were now ‘contemplating her fall from grace, and appalled’ that she kept mum over the atrocities carried out by the security forces on Rohingyas in Rakhine state.
“There have been widespread calls for the Nobel Committee to strip her of the prize. But there is no statutory procedure for doing so, nor is it clear how this would end the murder, rape, and mass exodus of the Rohingya at the hands of Myanmar’s Army,” the magazine added.
It said the most urgent and powerful appeals to Aung San Suu Kyi came from her fellow Nobel laureates. The Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who won the prize for her advocacy of girls’ education, condemned the “tragic and shameful treatment” of the Rohingya.
“I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same.”
Addressing a letter to his “dear sister,” the anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu wrote of his “profound sadness” and called on Aung San Suu Kyi to end the military-led operations.
“If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep,” he wrote.
The Dalai Lama subsequently urged her to find a peaceful solution to the humanitarian crisis, saying that Buddha would have “definitely helped those poor Muslims.”
This is not the first time that laureates have spoken of their displeasure with Aung San Suu Kyi, the New Yorker said adding “in December last year, when the military conducted another brutal offensive against the Rohingya, thirteen Nobel winners, including Muhammad Yunus, Shirin Ebadi, and Leymah Gbowee, signed an open letter deploring the Army’s use of helicopter gunships, arbitrary arrests, and the rape of women.”
“Despite repeated appeals to Aung San Suu Kyi,” they concluded, using her honorific, “we are frustrated that she has not taken any initiative to ensure full and equal citizenship rights of the Rohingyas. Suu Kyi is the leader and is the one with the primary responsibility to lead, and lead with courage, humanity and compassion.”
Delving into her past, the New Yorker mentioned a short essay she wrote titled ‘Let’s Visit Burma’ in which Suu Kyi described the “colourful and diverse origins and customs” of her compatriots. Rakhine state, in the west of Myanmar, was something of a “mystery” in this respect, she wrote. Its population had originated from “Mongolian and Aryan peoples who had come over from India.” Owing to its geographical position, Bengal had also “played a major part” in its history and culture. Among the state’s numerous ethnic groups —Arakanese, Thek, Dainet, Myo, Mramagyi, and Kaman—others displayed “the influence of Bengali.”
But she assured readers that while there are “more people of the Islamic faith to be found in [Rakhine] than anywhere else in Burma,” it had been “predominately Buddhist” for centuries. By groups that “displayed the influence of Bengali”, Aung San Suu Kyi certainly meant the Rohingya, a stateless minority in northern Rakhine that most Myanmar people consider to be Bangladeshi immigrants.
Since Aug 25, when militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked police posts and an Army base, as many as a thousand Rohingya have been killed and over 400,000, more than third of the Rohingya population, have been forced into neighbouring Bangladesh, human-rights groups estimate.
When Aung San Suu Kyi accepted her own prize, in Oslo, in June 2012, she said that, under house arrest, “it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world. . . . What the Nobel Peace Prize did was to draw me once again into the world of other human beings outside the isolated area in which I lived, to restore a sense of reality to me. . . . I began to understand the significance of the Nobel Prize.”
While Aung San Suu Kyi has remained silent, the offices and ministries under her charge have not, describing the Rohingya as Bengalis and publicly advocating the use of force in certain situations. “If they are going to harm you, you can shoot them,” Aung San Suu Kyi’s spokesman, U Zaw Htay, said.
“The most egregious case of the recklessness of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government came last month, when it accused international aid workers of supporting terrorists, prompting fears for the safety of thousands of people in Myanmar employed by charities and NGOs.”
There have been demands that the US government stop using the name “Rohingya”, and when a Rohingya women gave details of an alleged gang rape, Aung San Suu Kyi’s office dismissed it as “fake rape.”
The magazine mentioned the BBC correspondent, Fergal Keane, who probably knows Aung San Suu Kyi better than any other foreign journalist, admitted that “we knew too little of Myanmar and its complex narratives of ethnic rivalries. . . . And we knew too little of Aung San Suu Kyi herself.”
In a rare interview with Keane in April, she denied ethnic cleansing was taking place in Rakhine and resisted the cruder perceptions of her persona: “I am just a politician. I am not quite like Margaret Thatcher, no. But on the other hand, I am no Mother Teresa, either.”
According to Yorker, unlike Thatcher, a consummate political operator, many have commented upon Aung San Suu Kyi’s weakness as a politician. Her failure to act against the military operation in Rakhine, so the argument goes, is not a result of her bigotry but because she is unable to outmanoeuvre the generals in Myanmar’s very own game of thrones.
Her father, the magazine reported, was an extraordinarily tenacious, even ruthless, man who navigated between the British and Japanese empires in order to achieve his objective—a unified, independent Burma. He was also a Burmese nationalist who cared little for the nation’s ethnic minorities. Today, he is universally venerated in Myanmar, while few outside the country know who he is. This has almost certainly influenced Aung San Suu Kyi, who mimics his leadership style, moral code, and political priorities.
“The Rohingya are a distraction from her overriding ambition: to complete her father’s dream of unifying the country and ending a civil war that has raged between ethnic rebel forces and the Myanmar government since 1948.”
The New Yorker report concluded with Rebecca West’s 1941 book “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon,” in which the author said that Aung San Suu Kyi likely associated with her father when reading the book under house arrest. “It is the habit of the people, whenever an old man mismanages his business so that it falls to pieces as soon as he dies, to say, ‘Ah, So-and-so was a marvel! He kept things together so long as he was alive, and look what happens now he has gone!’ ”