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Suu Kyi’s Apartheid Myanmar – OpEd


How long our world must witness the ethnic cleansing of vulnerable minorities?

In Myanmar, it’s a routine thing against the minority Rohingyas who mostly live in the northern Arakan state, close to Bangladesh. They are the most persecuted people in our planet. They were persecuted for nearly half a century by the military governments that preceded the current civilian government.

There was much hope in the air that conditions inside the country would improve dramatically once a democratic government comes to power. Well, there is a democratic government now after a general election in which all but Muslims participated [the latter were barred from participating in the election on the grounds of their race/ethnicity and religion]. The Myanmar government is run by Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party.

Remember her? Suu Kyi was the poster lady of democracy, a figure who was prematurely awarded a Nobel Prize for peace to pressure the repressive military government to pave the path for democracy. She was presumed to make things better for everyone. Even the persecuted Muslims had high aspirations about her despite her criminal silence when the Rohingya and other minority Muslims were slaughtered all over Myanmar by Buddhists in 2012 genocidal campaigns. It did not matter that in the general election that followed her party did not field a single Muslim candidate even in the Rohingya majority territories of the northern Arakan state.

Her hypocrisy shocked everyone. Many pundits tried to find excuses for her saying that her decision not to field a single Muslim candidate was part of a calculated election strategy to position herself as a die-hard, serious Buddhist nationalist who is not sympathetic to the ‘despised’ Rohingya and other Muslim minorities living inside the den of intolerance called Myanmar. As expected, she won big, formed the civilian government and self-appointed herself to be its chief counsellor, a CEO-like figure overlooking the government.

Rather than integrating the minority Muslims and easing their pains and sufferings, in recent months Suu Kyi’s government unleashed one of the worst ethnic cleansing drives in the northern Rakhine state to further marginalize the already marginalized Rohingya community. Scores of Rohingya villages were torched by her security forces leading to forced exodus of tens of thousands to Bangladesh, let alone the internal displacement of even a larger number.

Thousands disappeared, many were killed. Hundreds of Muslim females – even teenage girls – were raped as part of an ethnic cleansing drive that many imagined would never see in Suu Kyi’s Myanmar.

Knowing the enormity of the war crimes committed by her security forces, Suu Kyi would not let any fact-finding mission to investigate. In a BBC interview, she lied and denied such gruesome abuses of human rights.

But can truth be hidden? She ought to know better.

Suu Kyi says that Rohingyas returning to Myanmar are welcome. Reliable sources in Maungdaw say that the government has planned to return only one third of their original lands to the returnees and internally displaced Rohingyas, and that they are kept in a small slum-like quarter as per one ‘Household Registration List’, regardless of the numbers of the families within that ‘household registration list.’

A Rohingya youth sleeps on the street in Burma. Photo Source: Queen Mary, University of London.
A Rohingya youth sleeps on the street in Burma. Photo Source: Queen Mary, University of London.

“The Myanmar military burnt down our homes last year and we became displaced. They are returning us only one-third of our original village and building a small IDP Camps-like quarter. None of us wants to accept this. Worse, they are demolishing mosques, cemeteries, roads and other historical evidences in order to destroying evidences of the human habitats/societies in the village”, said an internally displaced person at ‘Wapeik’ village in Maungdaw.

Rohingya youths are targets of intimidation, harassment and persecution by the Myanmar authorities. The Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) from the Camp 12 based at the village of ‘YweNyoTaung’ has recently issued the warrants considered as arbitrary by the human rights observers for the following number of youths from the following villages:

  1. 105 from the village of ‘Ye Khae Chaung KhwaSone’ locally known as ‘Bor Gozi Bil.’
  2. 69 from the village of ‘Ye Dwin Chaung’ locally known as ‘Raimma Bil’, and
  3. 59 from the village of ‘Kyar Gaung Taung’ locally known as ‘Rabailla’.

U Aye Myint, a human rights observer based in Maungdaw while speaking to Rohingya Vision, said “this is a list of targeted arbitrary warrants issued aiming to reduce the numbers of the Rohingya youths including underage teenagers in the Arakan state. As a result, many youths in the region have been living in their hideouts for past few days in fear of arbitrary arrests.”

According to the local Rohingyas, since 2012 the Myanmar authorities systematically forced hundreds of Rohingya youths in Maungdaw and Buthidaung to flee from the country by issuing arbitrary arrest warrants against them after accusing them of involving in the June-2012 violence. [Rohingya Vision TV]

Suu Kyi has proven herself to be a devil with a smiling face; an utterly sly lady to whom veracity and morality have lost their worth. It’s a sad commentary on a personality – once much revered and now deservingly maligned – that could have made things better for all those who call Myanmar their home – Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

Instead, it is becoming increasingly clear that in Suu Kyi’s Myanmar religious minorities won’t have any rights. Thus, the destruction of Muslim shrines, mosques and cemeteries has become part of a sinister strategy to ethnically cleanse them. And yet like a pathological liar she chose to deny practicing such crimes.

What a joke Buddhism has become in the hands of its extremist zealots inside Myanmar!

In nearby Bangladesh, if any Buddhist temple is attacked by an angry mob that is reacting to unfathomed crimes of the Myanmar government and its extremist Buddhists, the government of Bangladesh takes extra effort to refurbish it better showing its unmolested reverence and respect for other religions and their symbols. Expecting any reciprocity of gesture from Buddhist Myanmar is simply foolish; it’s not even a beautiful dream, only an illusion!

Unalienable rights are those which God gave to man at the Creation, once and for all, and as such, governments could not take them away. In the USA, this fundamental truth is recognized and enshrined in its nation’s birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence: “[A]ll men are created equal…[and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognizes the inherent dignity, equality and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, stating such to be the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. The Government of Myanmar is in serious breach of the UDHR and its Article 3, which states: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. As I have noted many times, Myanmar government is guilty of refusing to grant any of the 30 Articles enshrined in the UDHR to the Rohingya people. The latter don’t have any right in Myanmar – neither before nor now in Suu Kyi’s apartheid regime.

I am aware that to the offenders like Suu Kyi ‘apartheid’ is a loaded term, as she has done in the past with the charge of ‘ethnic cleansing’ against her government. But seriously speaking, how can she and her ilk duck such accusations when a comparison with Apartheid South Africa makes a very strong case for Myanmar?

The Rohingyas of Myanmar are the worst victims of a criminal policy of economic, racial, religious, political and economic apartheid whose parallel simply does not exist in our time anywhere.

Unwanted and brutally persecuted in Buddhist Myanmar, Rohingyas have been fleeing their ancestral homes in Arakan state after Burma (now Myanmar) won its independence from the Great Britain. More Rohingyas now live outside Myanmar than inside. Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Gulf statelets, Malaysia and India have sizeable community of Rohingya refugees.

The life of a refugee is terrible. It is unsafe, insecure and dehumanizing.

Nearly 5000 Rohingyas have been putting up in the Jammu city, mainly on its outskirts, in the Indian Occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir, well until recently. Now with a fascist Hindutvadi party (BJP) ruling the country in the center and many other states, Hindu fascists are making it difficult for anyone to live peacefully in this country unless the person is a Hindu, preferably from the upper caste. Of course, when it comes to outsiders like the Rohingya, who are refugees who don’t share Hindu religion, they are easy targets of harassment and persecution these days.

Last week, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Jammu, Rakesh Gupta had issued a statement calling for identification and killing of Rohingyas. As the latest report shows, seven Jhuggis (shacks) of Rohingya Muslims were torched by Hindu miscreants in Bhagwati Nagar area of Jammu early Friday, just days after a Rohingya family was thrashed and threatened to leave the state.

The Rohingyas putting up in Bhagwati Nagar said some families living in the adjacent plot were forced to move out after some people threatened them. “I don’t know why it happened. I had come here because of the problem in our country (Burma). We will return once things limp back to normal there. It would be good if the Modi government gives us space and time to stay here for some time, till we return,” said Fatima Khatoon.

High Court Bar Association Srinagar has condemned the torching of seven shacks of Rohingya Muslims by certain communal elements in Bhagwati Area of Jammu, on Friday. It described the statement of certain police officials that it was a case of short circuit as false and an attempt on their part to protect those criminals, who had committed the distressing and horrifying crime.

The Bar Association once again requests the international community including Amnesty International, Asia Watch and other human rights organizations of the World to take notice of the gruesome events, which are taking place in Kashmir and intervene effectively, to bring an end to such gross human rights violations in Kashmir.

My heart bleeds to see so much suffering of the vulnerable people in our world! Who knows if the persecuted Rohingya will one day see the end of their long sufferings, much like many other lucky ones in this unfortunate planet of ours!

Do the leaders of our time have the moral courage, urge and tenacity required to change the ugly face of apartheid Myanmar for better so that people of all races, ethnicities and religions can live side by side peacefully, safely and securely?

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Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Dr. Habib Siddiqui has a long history as a peaceful activist in an effort towards improving human rights and creating a just and equitable world. He has written extensively in the arena of humanity, global politics, social conscience and human rights since 1980, many of which have appeared in newspapers, magazines, journals and the Internet. He has tirelessly championed the cause of the disadvantaged, the poor and the forgotten here in Americas and abroad. Commenting on his articles, others have said, "His meticulously researched essays and articles combined with real human dimensions on the plight of the displaced peoples of Rohingya in Myanmar, Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo and Palestine, and American Muslims in the post-9/11 era have made him a singular important intellectual offering a sane voice with counterpoints to the shrill threats of the oppressors and the powerful. He offers a fresh and insightful perspective on a whole generation of a misunderstood and displaced people with little or no voice of their own." He has authored 11 books, five of which are now available through His latest book - Devotional Stories is published by A.S. Noordeen, Malaysia.

10 thoughts on “Suu Kyi’s Apartheid Myanmar – OpEd

  • April 17, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    In the recent news, a chorus has developed against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (DASSK) once the icon of the islamic and liberal media because their joy at her election has turned “into sour grapes” as DASSK would not do their bidding of islamization of Myanmar.

    Myanmar has been trying to neutralize islamic terrorists that has taken a foothold in its territory for decades. Now, Myanmar is inspired more by President Trump who said “You need to fight fire with fire”, you cannot create more terrorists or more hatred by appeasing islamic terrorists that are already beheading innocent people whose only crime is to be “infidels” (non muslims)

    Minorities in the neighboring overpopulated muslim Bangladesh (the origin of muslims in Myanmar) has not only seen apartheid particularly in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) but also a rampage of the ethnic cleansing by islamic terrorists. Bangladesh is included in a list of 78 terrorist attacks “executed or inspired” by the Islamic State. The list does not include the hundreds of native Buddhists, Hindus and Christians killed by islamic terrorists. The population of minorities in Bangladesh has decreased from over 35% in 1950 to less than 10%; while the muslim population in Myanmar has increased at an astounding rate; which reinforces the fact that the muslims are playing the victim hood card. The same victim hood card is being played globally, as non muslims in muslim countries are being annihilated while muslim population has increased in non muslim countries.

  • April 21, 2017 at 3:16 am

    The above comments by Thein Maung reveal his obscene bigotry than anything else. It is obvious that he approves of the gruesome crimes of his fellow Buddhists and the government against minority Rohingya and other non-Buddhists.
    Bigotry is bad by any definition. Why should the Rohingyas of Myanmar bear the burdens of mindless crimes of extremists elsewhere? Buddhists like Maung, if they have any human trait still left in them, rather than blaming Rohingyas, should empathize with the persecuted Rohingya and fight fascist Buddhists who gives bad name to Buddhism.
    Instead, what we see is crass support for evil Buddhist fascism by guys like Maung. It is shameful and inhuman.

    • April 22, 2017 at 7:43 pm

      Dr. Habib, you’ve hardly responded to any of Thein Maung’s comments, except that he is a bigot. Wow!
      “What a joke Buddhism has become in the hands of its extremist zealots inside Myanmar!” Coming from a Muslim like you? You talk about bigotry when Bengalis regularly use the derogatory term Moger Mulluck against Rakhines – you know exactly what that means. You talk of bigotry when Muslims in Bangladesh are regularly discriminating against the Hindus calling them Malaon. You mention “Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)” – I’m sure you are aware that, the patrons of Islam, Saudi Arabia is not a signatory!
      You make no mention of Harakah al-Yaqin and Ata Ullah attacking Myanmar police posts and killing Myanmar policemen in Rakhine – perhaps you don’t believe it.
      When century old Rakhine temples in Ramu were burnt done by bus loads of Bengalis, with an Army cantonment with hundreds of soldiers less than 5 miles away how did you let it happen? ” ..the government of Bangladesh takes extra effort to refurbish it better.” Seriously? Almost two century old Phara Kyaung was razed and you are saying Bangladesh government made it better. Have you no shame!!
      How about answering Thein Maung’s question regarding dwindling minority population Bangladesh? What is happening to your own Hindu brethren?
      Such an academic you are that you use Rohingya Vision as reference!! How about National Enquirer next time.
      I know you are boiling to respond. Kindly do so.

  • April 21, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    When truth and facts do not prevail, name calling (such as bigot or islamophobic) and fake news or false accusations are typical of muslims practicing deceit as taught in Koran – namely TAQIYYA (to lie to protect one’s self from persecution, emotional harm or physical harm, real or perceived) and KITMAN (to spread misinformation – especially to benefit Islam and to aid its spread). The Qur’an openly states many times that Allah is the “best deceiver”. Taqiyya is employed in disguising one’s beliefs, intentions, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions or strategies.

    ONE CANNOT TAKE A MUSLIM ON HIS OATH: In Sahih Bukhari we find narrations telling us Prophet Muhammad had said if he took an oath and later found something else better, he would do “what is better” and expiate his oath. Since determining what is “better” is a very subjective evaluation, one can break any agreement with anyone at any time they choose to do so just based on one’s perception of what is “better”.

    If jihad is perpetual, it means (according to Islamic theology) Muslims are always in a state of war. If Muslims are always in a state of war, it means deception is always permitted. Muslims must strive, fight, and kill in the name of God. The following verses are from Koran:
    9.5-6: ” Kill those who join other gods with God wherever you may find
    4.76: “Those who believe fight in the cause of God.”
    8.12: “I will instill terror into the hearts of the Infidels, strike off their heads
    then, and strike off from them every fingertip,”

    It is abundantly clear from many of the above verses that the Koran is not talking of metaphorical battles or of moral crusades (as muslims would like non muslims to believe): it is talking of the battlefield. To read such blood thirsty injunctions in a holy book is shocking.

    Muslims like Habib Siddiqui and their Islam apologists must stop playing the blame game and start facing up to the harsh realities. Since 9/11 and the subsequent terrorist attacks which have taken place, Muslims have been entrapped in a vicious circus show called “Not in my name”. This circus show entails guilt by association of faith, and the never-ending apologies and false condemnations that Muslims are forced to make for crimes committed in the name of Islam.

  • April 22, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Sorry for a small typo: it should read: “It is long known (not ‘know’) …”

  • April 24, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    What I find amusing is Muslims (like Shahbaz and Habib) use the plight of Jews to their advantage when they couldn’t care less about them in real life! So now “Rohingyas” are the new Jews – Shahbaz, give ME A BREAK!! Habib should know that (assuming he’s from Bangladesh) that he’d risk prison in his country if an Israel stamp was found on his passport. Using the Jew card is a perfect move for Muslim Apologists like Shahbaz and Habib.
    The narrative that you folks create is that there are no Rohingyas in Rakhine due to genocide – go to Maungdaw today (yes, even today!!) and the entire central market is run by them. You mention Trump administration (another false narrative – “Gawd, he hates muslims and even he speaks of Rohingyas, so it must be true”), but you simply take away the word “Alleged” out for your benefit (read Nicki Haley’s quote- she’s also praising Myanmar). You don’t give a damn about Kofi Annan’s (ex Secretary General of UN, remember?) report because he isn’t saying what you want him to say – so, he’s a sell out in your book.

  • April 25, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    An utter fool can only compare Jews with Israel. I don’t have nothing against Jews, neither against any religion per say. I’m a humanist who is against any type of intolerance and injustice, especially a state sponsored one against its minority subjects. Israel is a Zionist entity, a racist and bandit nation since its inception. I’m 100% for religious freedom, but utterly against racist religious supremacy. Israel and Myanmar are pretty much similar in their attitude towards minority. They both persecute, oppress and deny full rights to their minority Subjects. In some sense Israel is little better than Myanmar – since she at least on paper grants equal rights to her Palestinian citizenry, while in Myanmar, Rohigyas are not even conferred citizenship. Besides they suffer from restriction on Movement or Travel, have Restriction on Education, Ability to work. They are forcefully evicted from their land, their homes are routinely destructed, they are subject to restrictions on Marriage … and what not.

    I’ve read Nikki Haley’s UN speech, which says ( ),

    “We continue to watch Burma, where the security forces have allegedly conducted episodes of violence and repression against ethnic Rohingya, who already face widespread ethnic and religious discrimination from governmental authorities and popular social movements, even despite the human rights gains achieved throughout the country as a result of Burma’s ongoing democratic transformation. Such treatment drives desperate people to flee to neighboring countries at best or to radicalization at worst. These sorts of allegations demand real, independent investigations as soon as possible. This is why we supported the recent establishment of an international fact-finding mission to look into these allegations,”

    What do you see here that supports your narrative?

    I found the following from Kofi Annan ( ),

    “It’s really about time they close the camps and allow the people in the camps, particularly those who have gone through the (citizenship) verification process, access to freedom of movement and all rights of citizenship,” Annan told Reuters by telephone from Geneva.

    And again what do you see here that supports your position?

    It is very tough to hide ones true color even when masquerading a concerned reader discussing issues in public forum. Rhee and Maung’s true color is expressed in this thread, “A pair of Muslim Hater to the Bottom of their Heart!!!”

  • April 26, 2017 at 2:41 am

    Same Mizzima story ends up with the following “The Donald Trump administration is generally viewed as putting on a show, pretending to care about human rights when the opposite is seen as true.” So, go figure.
    Love this Jews vs Zionist thing that you’ve put up. Nothing against the Jews, but…..I’m a humanist. Wow. Another perfect line from the Muslim apologist playbook.
    “I’m…. utterly against racist religious supremacy” ummm, mind talking about muslim bigotry in Pakistan?
    Also,where does Kofi Annan mention genocide? As I’d mentioned before please visit or read about Maungdaw (a border town by Bangladesh) and see all “Rohingya” shop owners (some with multiple wives and practicing religion openly) gleefully going about their lucrative businesses. They number over 90% of the population. Rakhines are a tiny minority there.
    “And again what do you see here that supports your position?” Tell me again what you think my position is?

  • April 27, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    1. I figured out. It certainly does not support that atrocities are not happening.

    2. When there is no substantial rebuttal, the best comes out of a Muslim hater to the bones is “Another perfect line from the Muslim apologist playbook.”

    3. Don’t jump to another issue when you are unable to defend you position about the current issue.

    4. When most of the Rohigya Habitats are decimated, insisting on an outlier exception like Maungdaw repeatedly is analogous to the argument of the Fox, who after devouring 6 crock kids, repeatedly shows the 7th and the last living crock kid to the crock mom, which, nevertheless would be devoured by the Fox the very next day. I can feel the ache of your bigoted mind since at least one Majority Rohingya village still maintains its presence in Myanmar – where your ardent desire is the total decimation of the Rohingya people from Myanmar in entirety.

  • April 28, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    I appreciate your position of agreeing to give citizenship to the vetted Rohingyas, which somehow was not much apparent from your earlier comments.

    Just looking at the wikipedia data reveals that more than a million of Rohingyas are expats. I presume most of them are part of the diaspora, who was forced to live abroad to avoid persecution.


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