Burma’s Rohingya crisis and human rights imperialism
28 November 2017
The visit by Pope Francis this week to Burma (Myanmar) has brought into focus the tragedy confronting the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority who have been forced to flee in droves to neighbouring countries.
At least 620,000 men, women and children have been driven out Burma in recent months by the Burmese army and associated gangs of thugs following minor attacks in August by the Arakan Rohinya Salvation Army (ARSA). The refugees live in squalid, overcrowded camps in Bangladesh and India, both of which have made clear they are not welcome.
The international response to this massive humanitarian crisis is saturated with hypocrisy and cynicism, above all by the major imperialist powers—the United States, the European Union (EU) and their allies—that exploit “human rights” to further their geo-political interests, including through regime change and wars.
For decades, following its brutal crackdown on mass protests and strikes in 1988, the US and the EU treated the Burmese military regime as a pariah, denouncing its abuse of democratic rights and imposing harsh sanctions.
Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), was universally promoted as a democracy icon and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Her house arrest by the junta, despite her role in derailing the 1988 protests and keeping the military in power, allowed the establishment media to bestow martyr status on her.
Neither the condemnations of the military nor the accolades for Suu Kyi was based on any genuine concern for the democratic rights or suffering of the Burmese people. Washington’s chief grievance with the Burmese army was that it was too closely aligned with China. Suu Kyi represented…