Analysis, rohingya, Side Feature, South Asia

Democracy has Not Only Failed in Myanmar, but is also Dangerous to the Muslim Rohingya

According to the Diplomat report, the hopes of ethnic groups in Myanmar for a better future remain overshadowed by conflicts that have smoldered for decades. In the upcoming parliamentary elections, the National League for Democracy (NLD) and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, may pay the price for the failures to deliver on their democratic promises. Jason Gelbort, an international lawyer, told The Diplomat that “the amendments to the major land laws, passed by the NLD government, have put people at risk of losing their own land.” He added, “This also harms prospects for peace and causes new conflicts.” The loss of land aggravates the impoverishment of ethnic groups and deepens their dissatisfaction with the NLD. In 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi mobilized ethnic minorities to vote for her party, committing to solve their issues. Amnesty International recently reminded the NLD that ethnic people have played an integral role in much of the political opposition against the military government.

Maung, a Myanmar activist, originated from Shan ethnic group, had voted for NLD five years ago but today he is dissatisfied with what the party achieved. “We are sliding back into the authoritarian past,” he sums up. Ye Myint Win, from Fortify Rights, echoes Maung’s views. He suggests that at this point, ethnic political parties are uniting against the NLD and military. “NLD can’t win like 2015 in this year’s election, people are losing their hope in NLD administration,” he adds. “Under the NLD administration, I have seen the increasing numbers of human rights violations and other abuses perpetrated by the military with full impunity,” he comments.


Democracy has clearly shown its failure in Myanmar, so has the icon of democracy Aung San Suu Kyi who has turned into a defender of Myanmar’s military junta regime. She has become increasingly close to the regime and is willing to become a shield for Myanmar’s military at the International Court of Justice on the issue of the Rohingya. Five years on from the election victory of the NLD, yet ethnic-based conflicts and crimes against humanity have become more and more severe.

The track record of Aung San Suu Kyi shows that her stance has been clear towards the Rohingya Muslims: totally no partiality and no defense. This stance has been maintained by Suu Kyi amid international condemnation in order to maintain her popularity in Myanmar society. Indeed, there is no public sympathy for the Rohingya people within Myanmar itself. Most of the Burmese people agree with the official view of their government that the Rohingya people are not Burmese citizens. They are called “Bengali” illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. This stance was born from the co-optation of media politics carried out by the junta regime with strong channelling of information by the government.

Myanmar’s government system is a symbiosis between military regimes, racism, and radical Buddhist forces that would never give place to the Rohingya Muslims. This is officially reflected in their constitution which contains that the Rohingya people will never be recognized as national ethnicity. Aung San Suu Kyi, in the name of democracy that is the sovereignty of the people – would also never defend the Rohingya Muslims because it was impossible for her to risk the majority vote of the people of Myanmar. Therefore, she has continued to be blind and deaf to the military junta’s acts in oppressing and slaughtering the Rohingya Muslims. Even after the military junta political party was defeated in the 2015 elections, the military has remained the most powerful institution in the country. And ever since, the military has had Aung San Suu Kyi as a shield, who has been ready to be battered by international protests over their actions. This could mean that the pro-democracy group has indirectly joined hands with the Myanmar military in the systematic ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya. As a result, in the upcoming election, if the NLD party wins again, democracy will become more dangerous for the Rohingya Muslims.

Therefore, there is no future can be expected from democracy. It is an import concept from the West, and was also born of secularism which will never give space for Muslims to implement their Islamic ideology. In the case of Myanmar, the failure of democracy has made this predator country far more dangerous for the Rohingya Muslims, because it has been symbiotic with the racist military junta. Thus, the Bangladesh’s hard work in demanding that Myanmar grant citizenship for the Rohingya has been wrong headed. Bangladesh, under the secular leadership of Hasina, has over and over again tried to repatriate the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. This is clearly a big mistake.

In fact, the obligation to grant citizenship for the Rohingya Muslims is on the shoulders of the Muslim rulers such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. They must break off diplomatic relations with the butcher Myanmar regime. The Rohingya Muslims have the full right to start a new life in the Muslim lands, NOT remain living under oppression in the land of the Kuffar. They must obtain full guarantees of their basic needs such as health, education, employment, and protection.

Indeed, Allah (swt) said:

وَإِنِ اسْتَنْصَرُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ فَعَلَيْكُمُ النَّصْرُ

“…And if they seek help of you for the religion, then you must help…” [Al-Anfal : 72].

Dr. Fika Komara

Member of the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir