Myanmar, without any challenge from opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, has institutionalized discrimination against the Rohingya, allowed hate speech to flourish, encouraged islamophobia and granted impunity to perpetrators of the violence. As the desperate plight of the Rohingya, stranded on the boats in the Andeman Sea, is broadcast around the world, questions are now being asked as to why Aung San Suu Kyi has remained so conspicuously silent.
In October 2013, in an interview with Mishal Husein, Aung San Suu Kyi claimed that the 2012 violence was not ethnic cleansing but the product of ‘fear on both sides… it is not just on the part of Muslims but the Buddhists too. Muslims have been targeted but also Buddhists have been subject to violence’. She too uses the description ‘Bengali’ to define the Rohingya.
Aung San Suu Kyi is an ambitious politician. The entire Rohingya population has been disenfranchised and thus they hold no electoral power. To speak out against the genocidal persecution of the Rohingya is likely to lose her votes.