Why even Burma’s democracy activists don’t stick up for the Rohingya

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from The Washington Post,

The Yangon School of Political Science, squashed into an upper floor of a grimy old apartment block, is almost as hard to find as the liberalism that it tries to teach. Inside, the head of the school, U Myat Thu, concedes that the small foundation he has created to nurture “tolerance, liberal individualism and freedom of conscience” suddenly finds itself out of step with the times. Beyond the walls, the rest of the country has largely given itself up to the easy certainties of prejudice, hatred and ignorance.

He was hopeful. But a great deal has happened since then — above all, the military-led ethnic cleansing campaign that has terrorized hundreds of thousands of Burma’s ethnic Rohingya minority into fleeing the country. “It’s horrible, and people have no feelings for them at all, no sympathy at all.”

Sadly, he is right. But what most worries him is that none of his fellow political warriors in the NLD have spoken out in the same way. Indeed, merely his use of the R-word marks him out in contemporary Burma as something of a hero of our time. The term “Rohingya” is officially banned, and so cowed are most people by this edict that almost no one uses it in private conversation, either.

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