Desmond Tutu urges Aung San Suu Kyi to speak out over Rohingya killings
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pleaded with fellow Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to speak out over the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
In an open letter to the Myanmar leader he has condemned her silence over the unfolding horror of what is seen in some quarters as ethnic cleansing.
According to reports in recent weeks alone thousands of Rohingyas, including women and children, have been killed or tortured and their villages burned to the ground in military attacks said to be aimed at eliminating terrorism.
Ms Suu Kyi, who became a beacon of hope for democracy in Myanmar for steadfastly opposing the hardline military government and spent nearly 20 years under house arrest, has seemed strangely detached from the issue.
Desmond Tutu is dismayed that a woman he once revered for her bravery and compassion should adopt such a stance. The 85-year-old, a lifelong peace and social justice campaigner, said he had come out of retirement to make his plea because he’d been so moved by the plight of the Rohingya.
Addressing Suu Kyi as “a dearly beloved younger sister”, he reminded her that he had kept her photograph on his desk for years to remind him of the injustice and sacrifice she had endured out of her love and commitment to the people of Myanmar. She had symbolises righteousness.
“Your emergence into public life allayed our concerns about violence being perpetrated against members of the Rohingya. But what some have called ‘ethnic cleansing’ and others ‘a slow genocide’ has persisted – and recently accelerated.
“It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country,” he said. “If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep.”
See the open letter sent by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to Myanmar leader Ms Aung San Suu Kyi through the office of the Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Pretoria, South Africa. Distributed by Oryx Media.
7 September 2017
OPEN LETTER FROM ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS DESMOND TUTU TO MS AUNG SAN SUU KYI
My dear Aung San Suu Kyi
I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness about the plight of the Muslim minority in your country, the Rohingya.
In my heart you are a dearly beloved younger sister. For years I had a photograph of you on my desk to remind me of the injustice and sacrifice you endured out of your love and commitment for Myanmar's people. You symbolised righteousness. In 2010 we rejoiced at your freedom from house arrest, and in 2012 we celebrated your election as leader of the opposition.
Your emergence into public life allayed our concerns about violence being perpetrated against members of the Rohingya. But what some have called 'ethnic cleansing' and others 'a slow genocide' has persisted – and recently accelerated. The images we are seeing of the suffering of the Rohingya fill us with pain and dread.
We know that you know that human beings may look and worship differently – and some may have greater firepower than others – but none are superior and none inferior; that when you scratch the surface we are all the same, members of one family, the human family; that there are no natural differences between Buddhists and Muslims; and that whether we are Jews or Hindus, Christians or atheists, we are born to love, without prejudice. Discrimination doesn't come naturally; it is taught.
My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep. A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country.