5 May 2017
London: On May 8 (12 noon-2 pm), UK-based rights activists and multi-ethnic refugees from Burma will be holding a rally at the Guildhall to protest the City of London honouring the Myanmar State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi, with its Freedom of the City award.
The “Freedom of the City” award was first recorded in AD 1237 and connected to the ancient trade associations. Honourees are “enrolled in a ceremony in Guildhall, when they receive a guide to conducting their lives in an honourable fashion”.
The protest organizers say Aung San Suu Kyi has discarded her oft-touted Buddhist principles of compassion and truthfulness or universal human rights since entering into a partnership with the country’s most powerful military a year ago.
In its editorial on 3 May, the Guardian wrote, “when Aung San Suu Kyi was finally able to collect her Nobel peace prize in 2012, the committee’s chairman described how her “firmness of principle” in the struggle for human rights and democracy had made her “a moral leader for the whole world”. Since taking power in Myanmar, the former political prisoner’s moral credibility has been vastly diminished by her failure to even acknowledge the brutal persecution of the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state. A dozen fellow Nobel peace laureates have lamented her inaction in the face of “a human tragedy amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”.
Ring Du Lachyung, Chairman of the Kachin National Organization - UK, a well-known Kachin diaspora group, accuses the former Burmese human rights icon of “being complicit” in the Burma army’s war crimes against his Kachin people in Northern and Eastern Burma. “Since her first ever return to London in 2012, she has adamantly refused to condemn the Burmese military’s indiscriminate violence against our civilian communities including rape, air strikes, and shelling of churches,” said Ring Du. He stressed that “Suu Kyi chooses to ignore the fact that her military partners are the aggressor, who are attacking our (Kachin) communities in our ancestral homeland adjacent to India and China, in order to control our jade mines, fell our teak forests, extract hydropower from our rivers for generating and exporting electricity to China, and take over strategic border trade routes – without giving anything back to our Kachin people.”
Ko Aung, a prominent Burmese exile and former political prisoner, who has known the Burmese leader since he was a young university student activist during the country’s nationwide uprisings in 1988, said, “Suu Kyi has betrayed the cause of human rights in the name of political pragmatism. Her pragmatic politics have ruined her reputation without ushering in any tangible improvement in the lives of ordinary people or improving the general human rights conditions for democracy activists.”
Under Aung San Suu Kyi’s watch, human rights conditions are worsening not just for ethnic and religious minorities but also for Burmese human rights activists and journalists.
Despite the allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in ethnic minority regions and the persecution of journalists and rights activists, British companies are eager to expand their business ties with the Aung San Suu Kyi government. Reuters reported that the Anglo-Dutch consumer good maker Unilever (ULVR.L) (UNc.AS) just signed an expansive deal in Myanmar in order to triple its current annual sale revenues of 100 million euros (84.75 million pounds) by 2020.
Ring Du Lachyung, Kachin National Organization UK, 077 9235 7887
Tun Khin, Burmese Rohingya Organization UK, 078 8871 866
Marbur Ahmed, Restlessbeings, UK, 075 0610 0785
Ko Aung, Burmese dissident in exile & former Burmese political prisoner, 077 6209 4562