Reading commentary, analysis, and even alleged “reports” from the Southeast Asian state of Myanmar, it would appear that Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi – poster child of American and European “democracy promotion” – is helpless to avert what is quickly expanding into wholesale genocide against the nation’s Rohingya minority.
In reality, Suu Kyi’s political coalition has for decades been bolstered by highly politicized sectarian factions, including saffron-clad “monks” who have regularly employed street violence in support of Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party. These same factions – also for decades – have pursued a policy of racially and religiously charged, politically-motivated violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya population.
Myanmar’s Rohingya – many of whom have lived in the nation for generations – had at one point coexisted with Myanmar’s majority ethnic groups. It was only relatively recently that enterprising political factions decided to use racial and religious tensions as a means of galvanizing and radicalizing opposition aimed at undermining the then military-led government and bringing Suu Kyi to power.
It was warned years before Suu Kyi came to power that should her party win elections, free reign would be granted to her supporters to fully and openly pursue their genocidal agenda. The NLD has won the elections, and that genocidal agenda is now unfolding.
Covering Up Suu Kyi’s Ties to Sectarian Extremists… for Years
This fact is omitted across the Western media’s current reports, in an effort to exonerate Suu Kyi from any responsibility for the ongoing violence.
CNBC News, for example, in an article titled, “Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi under fire as Rohingya crisis escalates in Rakhine,” claims (emphasis added):
A year after becoming Myanmar’s de-facto leader, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi is coming under a barrage of international criticism for her failure to end alleged military crimes in the country’s northwest.
About 1.1 million people in the state of Rakhine identify themselves as Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority that has long suffered persecution in the Buddhist-majority nation. The group’s origins in Myanmar can be traced back to the fifteenth century, according to the Council of Foreign Relations, but Rohingyas have yet to be granted citizenship and remain unable to vote.
Strategically omitted from CNBC’s coverage is the fact that it was Suu Kyi, her NLD, and street demonstrations led by her “saffron” supporters that protested the previous government’s attempts to grant the Rohingya provisional citizenship and voting rights ahead of the elections that saw Suu Kyi’s NLD come to power.
Australia’s ABC News would report in a 2015 article titled, “Myanmar scraps temporary ID cards amid protests targeting ethnic minorities without citizenship,” that (emphasis added):
Myanmar’s government says identity cards for people without full citizenship, including Muslim Rohingya, will expire within weeks.
The scrapping of ID cards snatches away voting rights handed to them just a day earlier (Tuesday), after Myanmar nationalists protested against the move.
The Rohingya, along with hundreds of thousands of people in mainly ethnic minority border areas, who hold the documents ostensibly as part of a process of applying for citizenship, will see their ID cards expire at the end of March, according to a statement from the office of president Thein Sein.
The “nationalists” were of course, Suu Kyi’s “saffron” supporters.
Saffron and Secular Savagery
Readers may remember Myanmar’s “Saffron Revolution,” a 2007 “pro-democracy” protest named after the “saffron” robes of the “monks” who led the street protests. Backed by the United States and British governments, the protests followed the same pattern of “color revolutions” carried out elsewhere to advance Western interests, including across Eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
The “Saffron Revolution” is now rarely mentioned by the Western press, though in 2007, the US State Department-funded propaganda platform, The Irrawaddy, would report in their article, “Suu Kyi Greets Monks at Her Home; 10,000 Monks Demonstrate in Mandalay,” that:
Detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, dressed in yellow, came out of her home, where she is under house arrest, to pay respect to protesting monks who marched in front of her home on Rangoon’s University Avenue on Saturday afternoon, witnesses said.
The Irrawaddy would also report:
On Thursday, The Federation of All Burma Young Monks Unions called on students and civilians to join hands with monks in public demonstrations against the military regime which has ruled the country for almost 20 years.
Human Rights Watch, in a lengthy report titled, “The Resistance of the Monks: Buddhism and Activism in Burma” (PDF), further exposes the role several sectarian factions in Myanmar played in bringing Suu Kyi to power. It mentions by name the many sectarian unions and associations that were involved in creating the power base and street fronts that helped bring Suu Kyi into power.
Those mentioned, also concurrently involved in anti-Rohingya violence, include the All Burma Monks Alliance under which many others fall.
The UK Independent in a 2012 article titled, “Burma’s monks call for Muslim community to be shunned,” would mention several by name:
The Young Monks’ Association of Sittwe and Mrauk Oo Monks’ Association have both released statements in recent days urging locals not to associate with the group. Displaced Rohingya have been housed in over-crowded camps away from the Rakhine population – where a health and malnutrition crisis is said to be escalating – as political leaders move to segregate and expel the 800,000-strong minority from Burma. Earlier this month, Thein Sein attempted to hand over the group to the UN refugee agency.
The All Burma Monks Alliance would even send representatives to Washington DC to attend a US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) event alongside other political allies of Suu Kyi and her NLD party – who while secular – also support discrimination and violence against the Rohingya.
The US Funds Them All…
The Alliance’s own website in a 2012 post titled, “Trip to Washington D.C,” states (emphasis added):
On September 19 and 20, 2012 the All Burma Monks Alliance monks traveled to Washington, DC and joined many friends in welcoming Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to the United States. They watched as she received the Congressional Gold Medal, which is the highest honor given by the US Congress. They attended the event honoring her at American University and another event which honored recipients of the National Endowment for Democracy’s 2012 Democracy Awards.
These included Aung Din [a] leader of the 1988 student movement and a former political prisoner who is co-founder and executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma.
Aung Din – far from the only secular supporter of anti-Rohingya violence – is also the author of several crypto-racist articles circulated throughout Western policy think tanks defending discrimination and violence against the Rohingya. One, published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) under the title, “Rohingya Is More than a Human Rights Issue for Myanmar,” complains:
…the United States should avoid pressuring Myanmar to accept the Muslims in Rakhine state as an indigenous ethnic group and give them citizenship immediately. In Myanmar, neither the government nor the people will bow to such pressure, and changing their status to an indigenous people is not under consideration.
Aung Din’s “US Campaign for Burma,” is a Washington-based front both funded by the US government, and lobbying the US government for funding to other pro-NLD fronts both in and bordering Myanmar.
Among these US-funded fronts, included the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation in Bangkok. Run by Western journalists concurrently heading the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT), the foundation trained pro-NLD agitators in communication and media.
One of the “graduates” of this foundation was Pe Myint, Myanmar’s current “Minister of Information.” He now uses the “Ministry of Information” to prevent even the use of the term “Rohingya,” and regularly disseminates propaganda further inflaming national tensions.
In other words, from the “saffron-stained grassroots” to the highest levels of Suu Kyi’s government, anti-Rohingya violence is so deeply ingrained and has been for years, it was only through the Western media’s monopoly over information until now that has prevented this impending – and now unfolding catastrophe – from being noticed and averted.
Considering the extensive support the US has provided to place Suu Kyi, her NLD, and various supporting factions into power, and considering America’s track record for implementing regime change around the world, is it any wonder ultra-violent racists are hacking Rohingya minorities to death in Southeast Asia, while Washington’s proxies in Ukraine commit similar atrocities in the name of Neo-Nazism, while Western proxies in Libya and Syria do so under US-Saudi inspired Wahhabism?
While it is tempting to wade into the sectarian minutia of each and every one of these conflicts, there is but one common denominator, cynically inflaming tensions among groups that have in the past and could in the future coexist. This cynical process is carried out not for religious or ideology reasons but for self-serving geopolitical gain.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine“New Eastern Outlook”.