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How Easily the Oppressed Become Oppressors

Aung San Suu Kyi visits the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo on June 16 2012. Aung San Suu Kyi herself spoke at the event and 12 000 people came to celebrate her in the City Hall Square in Oslo.


How easily the oppressed become oppressors. Their suffering has not helped them to feel empathy and compassion for others people’s suffering.
In Myanmar Aug San Sui Kyi spent many years under home arrest because of her activities as an advocate for democracy. For this she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Her National League for Democracy party was freely elected in 2015, defeating the entrenched military junta and she then became State Counselor. The country’s constitution did not allow her to become President because she was married to a British citizen. Still this was hailed as a victory for democracy. Much was expected of her.

As it happens the real power remains in the hands of the military and no substantial changes have occurred. Was she their puppet? Did she knowingly make a deal for the sake of gaining the semblance of power?

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority of about one million who have lived in the country since the 12th century. In spite of that they are not considered one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups and have been denied citizenship since 1982. They live in one of the poorest states in the country and are subjected to constant persecution and violence. Under British Rule they were considered Indians and now they are basically stateless. This means that their rights to vote, marry and  practice their religion, and their access to basic services are severely restricted. Their homes are being
burned and they are being massacred en masse even as they are fleeing the country. Hundreds of thousands of them are trying to reach Bangladesh and other neighboring countries. En route they are subjected to rape and torture by the Myanmar security forces.

Why is Aug San Sui Kyi not denouncing these atrocities? Why is she talking of Muslim jihadism and calling these people terrorists? In a stance resembling that of our current president’s she is claiming that there is violence on both sides.

Critics have called for the revocation of her Nobel Peace Prize. The Dalai Lama and Malala Yousefazai have judged her severely and Archbishop Desmond Tutu has accused her of legitimizing genocide.

Were we too hasty in embracing her ? too eager for good news? ….but how could we have known?


2 Comment authors
HeoDCCBenjamin van Beek Recent comment authors
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Benjamin van Beek
Benjamin van Beek

It is an interesting question. Doesn’t the same happened in a way with the Jews to the Palestines. I am not an expert in this field. It is more a “feeling” that I have.
Maybe there are more examples of this phenomenon. Maybe it is a law.

Dina Cramer
Dina Cramer

When the Puritans first came to the American colonies, they came to escape religious oppression in Europe. They then turned around and were intolerant of those who did not practice their brand of religion.

Dina Cramer
Dina Cramer

Hi Simone- The following appeared in the New Yorker (Oct.2, 2017) Magazine. Written by Hannah Beech. …Kenneth Roth, of Human Rights Watch, told me. “Havel came to his position by saying a lot, by being a moral voice. Aung San Suu Kyi didn’t say much at all. She was a moral symbol, and we read into that symbol certain virtues, which turned out to be wrong when she actually began speaking.” Suu Kyi was not an intellectual, like Havel, or a freedom fighter, like Mandela, or an organizer, like Walesa. And unlike her father, she did not die before her… Read more »