Rohingya Condemn Burning of Independence Hero Aung San’s Picture

By Kyaw Kha 12 April 2013

Several Rohingya organizations in Asia and Europe have condemned the burning of the picture of Gen. Aung San, Burma’s independence leader and the father of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, at a recent rally in front of the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok.

Co-organized by the Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT), Muslims living in Thailand who have emigrated from Burma staged a protest on Tuesday calling for an end to violence against Rohingyas in the troubled country, in which they set fire to pictures of Aung San and Suu Kyi.

Maung Kyaw Nu, BRAT’s chairman, told The Irrawaddy that he had no qualms about burning Suu Kyi’s picture but condemned the denigration of her father.

“We set fire to Suu Kyi’s picture because she has been silent on both Rohingya and Burmese Muslim issues,” Maung Kyaw Nu said.

“I am sorry that General Aung San’s picture was also burned. It wasn’t our intention at all and only a few people in our crowd did it,” he said.

He added that ongoing demonstrations organized by Muslim sympathizers in different parts of the world were only to denounce recent violence against Rohingyas and other Muslims in Burma, and to raise international awareness about such atrocities.

Suu Kyi spoke out earlier this week for the first time since a wave of violence in March against minority Muslims in central Burma killed more than 40 people. The leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) told Muslim leaders in Rangoon that “rule of law and security for people are needed to tackle the problem.”

Meanwhile, a coalition of six organizations advocating for Rohingya Muslims in England, the Netherlands, Japan, Demark, Norway and Germany condemned the actions of Tuesday’s protestors in Bangkok.

“We strongly condemn the burning of the picture of Burmese independence architect Gen. Aung San at a protest in front of the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok on April 9,” they said in a statement released on Wednesday.

They also urged all parties working on behalf of Rohingyas worldwide to refrain from such “misguided” behavior.

Images of Tuesday’s burning of Aung San’s picture quickly spread to Facebook and other social media sites, drawing criticism from Burmese citizens abroad and at home.

“Gen. Aung San is the most highly regarded national leader of this country,” wrote the director of the President’s Office, Zaw Htay, on his Facebook under the name Hmuu Zaw.

“Even though they are not written or mentioned in the state Constitution like the country’s flag, Burmese citizens should automatically pay respect to his photos, labels and speeches as a social contract or national contract,” he continued.

Rallies on Tuesday were organized in the United States, England, Malaysia and Thailand. A similar protest will reportedly be held in New York later today.