Sunday, January 10, 2016

Peace is War. Slavery is Freedom. Strength is Ignorance.

The Nobel Peace Prize has never been without controversies.  Take the case of Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi, for instance:
Gandhi was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and, finally, a few days before he was murdered in January 1948.
Gandhi was not recognized for the phenomenally peaceful methods he preached and practiced.
Up to 1960, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded almost exclusively to Europeans and Americans. In retrospect, the horizon of the Norwegian Nobel Committee may seem too narrow.
"In retrospect" the Committee ought to feel awful about handing the prize to Barack Obama too, as I have often blogged about!

A few months ago, I blogged about another Nobel Peace Prize recipient behaving in ways that were anything but about peace.  "What a shame!" I commented about Aung San Suu Kyi's silence over the systematic campaign against the country's Rohingya.  She intentionally even shut off the strong advice from two other Peace Prize honorees: the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.

In his column, Nicholas Kristof writes about the wily politician that Aung San Suu Kyi is:
She is now a politician, and oppressing a minority like the Rohingya is popular with mostly Buddhist voters.
Oh, wow, what a surprise!  How awful a politician is she?
Aung San Suu Kyi avoids even saying “Rohingya.”
Kristof writes:
Aung San Suu Kyi is also inheriting the worst ethnic cleansing you’ve never heard of, Myanmar’s destruction of a Muslim minority called the Rohingya.
A recent Yale study suggested that the abuse of the more than one million Rohingya may amount to genocide; at the least, a confidential United Nations report to the Security Council says it may constitute “crimes against humanity under international criminal law.”
Yet Aung San Suu Kyi seems to plan to continue this Myanmar version of apartheid.
Of course, I agree with Kristof when he concludes:
Defenders of Myanmar and of Aung San Suu Kyi note that the country has many problems; they see the Rohingya as one misfortune in a nation with a vast swath of misfortunes. The priorities, as they see them, are economic development, democracy and an end to the country’s many local conflicts, and they protest that it’s myopic to focus on the problems of one ethnic group in a nation so full of challenges.
Yet to me, there is something particularly horrifying about a government deliberately targeting an ethnic group for destruction, locking its members in concentration camps and denying them livelihood, education and health care. When kids are dying in concentration camps, after being confined there because of their ethnicity, that’s not just one more problem of global poverty. It’s a crime against humanity, and addressing it is the responsibility of all humanity.
Strip her of the Nobel, I say.


Anne K said...

Not to avoid the topic, but I thought Nobel Prize rules disallowed stripping of prizes, no matter how atrocious the winner becomes.

A bit of ignorance. I thought Aung San Suu Kyi was not elected to an official position in the government. Is the expectation or hope that she will use her influence with the ruling party to direct legislation and actions, as a sort of the elder statesman?

Will the government closing the concentration camps, opening the region to relief efforts, and outlawing discrimination and abuse of the Rohingya change the minds of any of the people in the country? I doubt it. It will take much more than dozens of speeches by one powerful leader to change the society. It will take a generation at a minimum. At least those would be steps in the right direction.

Sriram Khé said...

Oh, the strip the title away was mere rhetoric, yes.
She is the de facto leader now, and can't be the office-holder thanks to the weird constitution that the military junta wrote up just to prevent her. Throughout her leadership, Aung San Suu Kyi has stayed away from speaking out against the atrocities the Buddhists have been inflicting on the Rohingya. A contrast to the peaceful politics that Gandhi pursued, which later became the formula for MLK too.
Turns out that Aung San Suu Kyi is an unprincipled realpolitik politician like any one of the jokers here in the US, or back in the old country, or wherever ... Maybe they should be realistic and stop handing out the Peace prize! Oh, I forgot that Nobel's estate and will require that the explosive dynamite money has to be spent ;)

Anne in Salem said...

No irony there???

Don't know what happened to my sign in this morning, why it has my name not my usual Anne in Salem. Stupid machines.

Ramesh said...

Well, yes, she has been silent on the Rohingyas. Its a long standing problem that predates her. I am not sure if that calls for stripping of her Peace Prize (I don't believe that she should have got it in the first place - propagating democracy is not a qualification for a Peace Prize. A Democracy Prize maybe but not the Peace Prize). Nobody is perfect and if you apply such exacting standards, nobody would qualify.

The Rohingyas are badly treated in Bangladesh as well. They are, unfortunately, a group nobody cares for.

Sriram Khé said...

But, of course ... who cares for the Rohingya, the Kurds, the ...
A prize ought to have exacting standards. Like how they have for the physics and medicine and chemistry. Even the literature one rarely generates big-time controversy. The Peace Prize, I suppose if the money was made from inventing one of the best killing things of the day, then it was doomed by karma ;)

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