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Once her vocal supporters, Dal Khalsa now slams Suu Kyi on the plight of Rohingyas

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 7 September 2017, 15:37 IST
(KM Asad/AFP)

The Rohingya Muslims being persecuted in the Rakhine area of Myanmar and those that have taken refuge in various parts of India have received support from an unexpected quarter. The Dal Khalsa, the group known to represent the hardline Sikhs, has stood up for the Rohingyas. The group has addressed an open letter to Myanmar Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi expressing shock while pointing out how the ongoing persecution of the Rohingyas has battered her reputation.

The letter says –

“We write to express our deep concern over the killings of Rohingya Muslims in the restive Rakhine state of Myanmar. Your failure to exert influence and stop brutal violence against the Muslim minority community has shocked us. It is appalling because the lady we knew believed cooperation and dialogue (non-violent tools) as the effective methods of conflict resolution. Regrettably, the killings have battered the reputation of the Nobel Peace Prize winner.”

The Dal Khalsa leaders have stated that they have raised the issue of persecution of Rohingyas purely on humanitarian grounds as they had done when Suu Kyi and her party members had faced repression and rights violations at the hands of the Military Junta in Myanmar.

Who are the Dal Khalsa & what do they want?

The Dal Khalsa has been known to espouse the Sikh state of Khalistan. But it has changed its tact from being a militant organisation to a force pursuing its objectives democratically over the last four decades of its existence.

“As an organisation struggling for Sikh rights, the Dal Khalsa has always considered you as ‘a source of moral courage and steadfastness' and supported your commitment to continue to fight for human rights and rule of law in the military controlled nation. You faced house arrest for 15 long years and even refused to leave Myanmar when your husband died in 1999,” the letter states.

The letter reminds the Myanmar leader of her statement that she had made on 14 November 2010 at her first public appearance after her release where she had said –

“I believe in human rights and I believe in the rule of law. I will always fight for these things.”

Dal Khalsa activists have underlined that her words have failed to translate into ground reality. The violence and exodus of Rohingyas in thousands tell the sorry state of affairs in her country.

“The people, the groups who admired you, supported you and voiced your cause, are disappointed and disheartened the way Rohingya Muslims are being treated in an inhuman way,” the letter says.

It further points out –

“When your party, National League for Democracy (NLD) won a majority in parliament in 2015, ending half a century of dominance by the military, you said the results were the possible start of a 'new era' in Myanmar politics. However, your words sound hollow today. May be in the capacity of State Counsellor – de facto head of the Myanmar government – you had started believing that the minority community doesn’t have human rights!”

The organisation has compared this to the scenario in India saying, “ Like Indian leadership, you too believe that all rights are reserved for majority community.”

The problem at home

The Dal Khalsa has also made a strong statement against the Indian government in the letter written to Suu Kyi. It pointed out –

“India, that has allowed minority-community refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh to stay on in the country, has threatened to expel Rohingya refugees – courtesy they being Muslims.”

The group reminded Suu Kyi how the Indian state has remained extensively engaged with Burmese military leadership in those times when fundamental rights of pro-democracy supporters, including hers, were brutally crushed by men in uniform.

The letter further says, “Unfortunately, today you have abandoned the Rohingya Muslims in their hard days. The situation cries for your urgent attention. You ought to resolve the humanitarian crisis engulfing the Muslim Rohingya minority and affecting the geo-politics of South Asia.”

According to Kanwar Pal Singh, the Dal Khalsa spokesperson, the letter as been forwarded to Suu Kyi through the Embassy of Myanmar in New Delhi.

The Dal Khalsa was one of the most vocal supporters of Suu Kyi when she was facing the suppression during the Junta regime.

“During your five day visit to India in Nov 2012, I remember while delivering the Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi, you took a jibe at ‘India’ on latter’s double standards and said 'our people felt abandoned by India during her hard days',” said Kanwar Pal Singh addressing Suu Kyi in the letter.

“The tragedy is that people who have been through such hardships themselves resort to suppression, onslaught and repression when they come into power,” Kanwar Pal Singh told Catch.

He said India should try to address the reasons for the present plight of Rohingyas and throwing them out is no solution. “The Indian government should talk to its Myanmar counterparts to address this issue,” he said.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

First published: 7 September 2017, 15:29 IST