Rohrabacher Urges Aung San Suu Kyi to Condemn Massacres
WASHINGTON – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, released the following statement on the massacre of Burma’s ethnic Rohingyas, as well as ongoing attacks on Karen and Kareni tribes:
High on my Capitol office wall, a poster image of Burma’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, the great, Nobel Prize-winning human rights activist, peers down on my guests and me – a reminder that our deliberations always must be conducted with an utmost, conscientious feeling for human freedom. I have known Suu Kyi over the years, visiting her when she was under house arrest in Burma’s capital, welcoming her on her triumphant trip to Washington, and otherwise communicating with her about events in her beloved but beleaguered country.
Burma holds a special place in my heart. I traveled there first in 1988 as a congressman-elect, when I met in a jungle encampment with the student resistance to the military dictatorship (a place bombarded by mortar fire two days after my visit). There I felt the deep attachment these young freedom fighters felt for Suu Kyi, the brave daughter of Burma’s last democratically elected leader. Over the decades, such admiration mounted among right-thinking people across the globe. We all cheered when, just a few years ago, Suu Kyi was released and made the de facto leader of Burma’s government, a sign the still-powerful military intended to reintegrate with the modern world.
Today I find myself distressed and disheartened by what looks like Suu Kyi’s indifference to the slaughter of the Muslim minority, the Rohingyas, as well as the ongoing attacks on the Christian Karen and Kareni, conducted by the Burmese military. We cannot call this anything but what it is: ethnic cleansing at its worst. I cannot begin to express how dismayed I am that Suu Kyi has communicated to the outside world that those images constitute disinformation spread by terrorists.
We face two possible explanations. One, in what amounts to her figurehead status, Suu Kyi has allowed her towering moral authority to collapse. Two, Burma’s true rulers, the military, have exercised complete control over the information Suu Kyi sees and hears. I pray the latter is the true explanation, however heartbreaking. I hope to see a signal that Suu Kyi feels the agony of the Rohingyas, the Karen and the Kareni, just as she felt the travails of her oppressed compatriots years ago.
In the meantime, the world must condemn the Burmese military’s genocidal acts against Muslims and Christians. This week’s UN General Assembly meeting in New York should do so formally.
On the human scale, I need to see a change of heart from my old friend, Suu Kyi. With all my heart, I do not wish to remove her poster.
Kenneth Grubbs, 202-225-2415