Views: 1419

Azeem Ibrahim is a director at the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy and author of “Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide.”

Once again, Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s most famous citizen, finds herself under arrest.

History rhymes, but it never repeats itself exactly. This time around, in the wake of a Feb. 1 military coup that toppled the Nobel Peace Prize laureate from power, things are rather different from how they were the last time she was under arrest.

The world outside her country no longer sees Aung San Suu Kyi as the hero of democracy and human rights we once believed her to be, and few will campaign for her release with the energy and zeal with which they did in the past. And while she remains popular in Myanmar itself, that popularity remains unlikely to translate into the reversal of the coup.

She has spent the past six years in power as the head of the civilian government, and her record, particularly on the issues of democracy and human rights, has been dismal. During that time, she appears to have abandoned virtually all the values we believed she stood for. By far her greatest lapse has been her defense of the Myanmar military for its genocide against the Rohingya. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), then actively participated in disenfranchising virtually all of the Rohingya that remained in the country in the lead-up to last November’s general election.

Her government kept in place virtually the whole package of laws for the repression of dissent and democratic pluralism that the previous military governments had instituted. These included limits on media freedom and political association as well as measures defining “threats to the state” so broadly as to effectively disbar most potential rival political forces.

The NLD did challenge the military over control of some state institutions. But it has done virtually nothing to open up the state and the wider society for genuine democratic development, nor has it opened the door for any other voice apart from the NLD and the military to be heard. Rather than working to build a broad and resilient democratic culture in the country, members of the NLD focused almost entirely on concentrating all power they were able to take from the military in the hands of one person: Aung San Suu Kyi. This is, in part, a consequence of her own inability to tolerate criticism and dissent, and her own lack of foresight for how to build a democracy that might outlast her.

Source : TWP