Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My letter to U.S. Senators and Congressmen from the state of Pennsylvania on Suu Kyi's visit to the USA

Dear Congressman/Senator,
I was rather surprised to learn of the decision of the U.S. Congress to bestow its highest honor - the Congressional Medal of Honor to Suu Kyi of Myanmar. Through her silence and equivocation during the latest Rohingya crisis she has proven that she does not deserve such an honor, and that she is not a serious partner for either human rights or democracy. She remains a fanatic and racist Burman Buddhist, very similar to the very regime that she complained about while in house arrest. 

In its entire history, racism and bigotry have defined, and sadly, continue to define Myanmar and there is no place for non-Buddhists in that Buddhist majority country of 56 million people today. 

The so-called reform movement inside Myanmar, initiated by Thein Sein, remains all a part of a very calculated gimmick to lift official bans against Myanmar, which requires hard cash to get out of being the poorest country in the ASEAN. Suu Kyi was released by the civilian-dressed military regime so that she could work as its emissary. And that is what Suu Kyi has been doing to promote Myanmarism - an explosive cocktail of ultra-nationalism and Buddhist religious fanaticism. In this new Myanmarism, there is no place for people of other races, ethnic backgrounds and religions. 

No, Myanmar does not deserve any benefit from our nation.  Minorities like the Rohingya have been declared stateless, courtesy of a racist law - Burma Citizenship Law of 1982. As a result of this national project towards ethnic cleansing, half the 4 million Rohingyas have been pushed out of the country since 1962 who  now live as unwanted refugees in places like Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and UAE. And this in spite of the fact that they were one of the early inhabitants of the land of Arakan since time immemorial, predating Burmese or Tibeto-Burman influx to the soil of Arakan. The other half lives in the living hell inside Myanmar with no right of movement, education, health, safety, employment, property, marriage, religion, etc. The government does not honor any of the 30 rights of the UNDHR when it comes to the Rohingya and other persecuted minorities. It still holds on to the 1982 Citizenship Law and nullifies citizenship of millions simply because they are not Buddhists. It forces slave labor and even kills anyone suspected of being Rohingya. It is no accident that per UN and international agencies, the Rohingyas are considered the worst persecuted people on earth. 

And yet, Suu Kyi is fine with such a marginalization of the Rohingya. What a shameful attitude for someone to be honored with a Nobel Prize for Peace, and now this Congressional Medal of Honor! These awards are becoming jokes like putting a pearl necklace on a swine!

Dear sir, as a result of government cover-ups, we may never know how many Rohingyas were killed during the latest pogrom that started in June of this year by a joint coordinated force of Buddhist mob and security forces. As a result, there is hardly a Rohingya town or village that is intact. They have been destroyed beyond recognition and look like as if they are bomb-ravaged places after a war. Not a single Rohingya place of worship is open; they are mostly burned down and demolished. The Rohingya-owned stores were looted and later gutted to fire. Their homes were burned to ashes, and their paddy fields set on fire - forcing more than 200,000 internally displaced Rohingyas to live without any shelter or roof over their head. Not a single government aid came to them. Worse yet, the local Buddhist Rakhines (including racist monks) obstructed the sale of food and other necessities to these Rohingya victims. 

And yet, the so-called Democracy Icon - Suu Kyi shamelessly did not utter a single word of condemnation against such gross violations of human rights. She is okay with such a savage 1982 law - formed during the dictator Ne Win's era - that nullified citizenship of millions of Rohingya people simply because they are non-Buddhists. Simply put, she is a Buddhist fanatic. She has been sent by the regime to soften the US attitude. 

I would like to urge the U.S. Congress  not to lift  its ban on any trade and commerce with Myanmar until a fundamental change takes place positively impacting the lives of those Rohingya and other minorities, guaranteeing their citizenship as equals and rights and privileges restored and secured. If Suu Kyi is serious about Myanmar's future, let her behave like a leader that shuns racism and bigotry advocating for a change with the 1982 Citizenship Law, thus ensuring rights of the Rohingya people. She can't promote trade with Myanmar when it is still locked up in its savage past of racism and bigotry. For the U.S. to fall for such a gimmick would be utterly foolish!

Habib Siddiqui

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