Burma: Dalai Lama challenges Suu Kyi on Rohingya

The Dalai Lama has appealed to Burma's Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to speak up for the country's persecuted Muslim Rohingya minority amid a worsening refugee crisis according to a May 28 report in The Australian. The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader said he is alarmed and saddened by the predicament of thousands still believed to be stranded at sea after weeks of being turned away by nations in the region. "It's not sufficient to say: 'How to help these people?'," he said from his office in the Indian Himalayan hill station of McLeod Ganj, where he has lived in exile since his escape from Chinese-­occupied Tibet in 1959. "This is not sufficient. There's something wrong with humanity's way of thinking. Ultimately we are lacking concern for others' lives, others' wellbeing." He said there could be no justification for violence against the estimated 1.3 million Rohingya in Burma, who have been denied citizenship and subject to persecution by the state and Buddhist extremists. He appealed to his Burmese co-religionists to "remember the face of the Buddha" when dealing with the minority, sometimes referred to as the world's "least-wanted" population.

The Dalai Lama said he has appealed twice to Suu Kyi in person to speak out on behalf of the Rohingya since 2012, when attacks broke out in Rakhine state near the Bangladeshi border. "It's very sad… I hope Aung San Suu Kyi, as a Nobel laureate, can do something. I met her two times, first in London and then the Czech Republic. I mentioned about this problem and she told me she found some difficulties, that things were not simple but very complicated. But in spite of that I feel she can do something." (Mizzima, May 28)

Meanwhile, more than 300 people demonstrated in Yangon (Rangoon) on May 27 to demand the government reject international pressure on the Rohingya. The call came prior to a regional summit, to be held on May 29 in Thailand, over boat people stranded in the Andaman Sea. Protest leader said: "There are no Rohingya in Myanmar [Burma] but the international community has pressed the government to recognise that there are Rohingya in Myanmar. Myanmar media does not accept Rohingya. The government has to deny it decisively. This rally is organized to let the world know that Myanmar people don't accept the Rohingya."

Added Ko Nay Myo Way, chairman of the Diversity and Peace Party: "This demonstration demands that the Myanmar government vow not to allow the boat people to enter Myanmar after the summit. Moreover, the demonstrators call on the UN not to put pressure on Myanmar for the reason of human rights. So we are demonstrating to let the world know."

Demonstrators held banners and chanted slogans including "Boat people, should go somewhere else," "Those who encourage Bengalis who entered illegally are our enemies," "We don’t want the UN's unfair pressure" and "Don't insult our country and our people." The protest included monks, the Rakhine Youth Association, Ha Pya Saw Ta Da Van philanthropic association, and the Myanmar National Network, as well as members of the Diversity and Peace Party. (Mizzima, May 28)

  1. Orwell in Burma

    Did you catch that the "Diversity and Peace Party" was one of those marching against citizenship rights for the Rohingya at yestrerday's little hate-fest in Rangoon? And the Ha Pya Saw Ta Da Van "philanthropic association" (sic!). You can't make this shit up. Yes, fuck the boat people, let 'em shift for themselves. Very philanthropic. Does anyone have any further information on these Orwellianly named entities?