Dear Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
For my entire life, I have admired your leadership in the movement toward a free and democratic Myanmar for as long as I can remember. However, the news of suffering in Myanmar since August of last year, and your response since then, has shattered my confidence in you. It is heartbreaking to see you cast off your ideals of truth, justice, and compassion.
Militants attacked police posts, the military responded; but these events have led hundreds of thousands of civilians— both Muslims and Buddhists— to seek refuge, with an unknown number of lives lost, not to mention cases of rape, severe injury, and burned homes. Please do not denounce most international media as fake news or dismiss reports of the suffering of Muslims.
When you visited Yale in 2012, I was joyous that Myanmar’s moment had arrived with you at the helm of its future. You promoted rule of law. For rule of law to succeed, there must be truth, justice, and compassion. Local and international journalists must be able to freely investigate and report for the public interest, without being targeted. The Reuters journalists Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo should be immediately released from jail, and instead be honored and praised for bringing truth to light.
The militants and all those responsible for terrorizing civilians and for the destruction of homes must be found and tried for justice to be obtained for the victims. Compassion must be shown and you must ensure access to humanitarian aid. The injured need to be supported both physically and emotionally. Please visit Rakhine state and Bangladesh and talk with all communities to understand their suffering.
In Freedom from Fear, you have said “concepts such as truth, justice, and compassion cannot be dismissed as trite when these are often the only bulwarks which stand against ruthless power.” Please put these words to action and help me restore my faith in your principles.
Kyaw Sint (Joe)
A concerned Burmese American
PhD student, Biostatistics, Yale University