The persecution of the Rohingyas has seldom ignited such a sense of despair around the world.
The first development is the petition that was forwarded to the Nobel authorities in Norway, pleading for the revocation of her Peace prize as the 386,000 petitioners believe that the Nobel peace laureate is “complicit in crimes against humanity”.
It was fairly predictable that the Norwegian committee would swiftly reject the appeal as the prize, once awarded, “cannot be turned down”.
Neither can the will of the founder, Alfred Nobel, be amended. Nor for that matter do the rules of the Nobel Foundation provide for the possibility of withdrawing the honour for laureates.
While Suu Kyi’s Nobel prize is safe, the development has already sparked an international debate, chiefly on whether the Nobel committee should retain responsibility for the prizes it awards, and withdraw them if its laureates later violate the principles for which they were recognised.
The matter does call for more profound reflection than has ever been in evidence. There can be little or no scope either for a knee-jerk petition or a peremptory rejection thereof.
Yet it ought to be conceded that there must be a little substance in a petition signed by no fewer than than 386,000 people from across the world.
The controversy can be contextualised with the Nobel for Barack Obama who was somewhat bafflingly given the prize before he was evaluated in office. It has been argued that his drone strikes, which killed a large number of civilians, should disqualify him from this honour. The other is Aung San Suu Kyi.
By the standards that she had once symbolised, the treatment of this ethnic minority has been grotesque.
And her own silence has been deeply intriguing. Both the awardee and the award are now at the core of a controversy that is embedded in man’s inhumanity to man. The other critical development which ought to stir Suu Kyi’s conscience is the spirited appeal by fellow Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu.
He has called on the perceived icon of democracy to end the military-led operations against the Rohingyas.
It has been a remarkably emotive appeal by the 85-yearold archbishop who has advanced a message to Suu Kyi and the world, saying the “unfolding horror” and “ethnic cleansing” in the country’s Rahkine region had forced him to speak out against the woman he admired and considered “a dearly beloved sister”.
Tutu has urged his fellow Nobel peace prize winner to intervene. “I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness,” he has written in a letter posted on social media.
“You symbolised righteousness. If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep.”
It is the tragedy of purportedly democratic Myanmar that Suu Kyi remains unmoved.