Politics are the activities associated with the governance of a country or an area.
When I was 18 I thought those would be activities I could dedicate my life to. “Imagine being a prime minister,” I dreamed. “I could decide so much, and the world could become so much better.” Back then I didn’t know that most politicians spend their lives writing policy, tweaking words, compromising and negotiating. It was not obvious back then that the greater the power a politician get, the greater his or her willingness to compromise their values.
“I am not a politician,” I told a journalist who called and wanted to interview me about the current crisis in Rakhine, Myanmar today. “I am not a politician. I am an aid worker and a mother. That is why this crisis hurts so much. These are people being killed. They are my friends.”
Aung San Suu Kyi was my biggest hero. Not only was she wise and brave. She was mysterious and beautiful as well. She was modern day’s Jeanne d’Arc. She was a female Mandela. She was Burma’s Martin Luther King Jr. She was a Buddhist Gandhi. I prayed for her. Many times. And I know I was not the only one.
The journalist wanted me to utter a statement about the speech Aung San Suu Kyi delivered today. I said: “I was with the Rohingya when she was elected in 2015. I saw the hope in their faces and the smiles. ‘Things are going to get better for us now,’ they said with confidence. ‘The Lady will defend us. Of course, she will. She will do what is right. Things are going to get better.’ I was with them in their miserable prison-like camps where they were dreaming of the day their children could go to school, of the day when there would be medicine for the sick, of the day they would not starve in a city with food in abundance. They were dreaming of the day when they too could travel freely and marry who they wanted to marry. They thought that The Lady would make their dreams come through. She did nothing for them. She remained silent when they starved. She said nothing when their villages were burned. She refused to say their name. Not even when children were thrown into fires and killed by the national army did she speak up. I am sad when I think about this. Her speech today only reflected what we already knew: She cares not about the Rohingya nor about what is right. She confirmed that she is a politician, and a politician only.”
I understand that politics are tricky. Politics are about thinking ahead. And most of all, it is about getting re-elected. Sometimes one must let one policy pass in order to stop another. But then there is the time when politics are put aside, and one simply has to say: “This is wrong and it has to stop.”
Today I was disappointed in Aung San Suu Kyi. Not surprised anymore. Just disappointed. Of course, I understand the dilemma she is in. Of course, I know how little power she actually has. Of course, I understand that it is not her, but the army who are killing the children. I just wish that she would have looked the world in the eye and said: “I am going to do what is right and speak what is true.” She did not.
I will not follow her example. It will be my goal.
Partners are working day and night to help save the Rohingya.
We would appreciate your help.
You can watch this movie too. It will move you.