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Burma Task Force’s Adem Carroll Challenges Suu Kyi’s Communications Director Aye Aye Soe

In a Letter-to-the-Editor (July 23) published in the Washington Post, the director-general of the Ministry of the Office of the State Counsellor’s Communication Unit, Aye Aye Soe took issue with the Post’s (July 16) editorial noting that Burma is backsliding on democracy.

Aye Aye Soe, attempts to deflect away from accurate reporting and analysis of worsening developments in Burma regarding human rights, and the treatment of minorities by writing that, while there is much still to do, we and the international community must remember how far we have come.”

This is not an explanation for the lack of progress in the country on these fronts but also rings hollow in the face of the facts: Burma has unfortunately backslid on human rights.

Replying to Aye Aye Soe, BTF’s UN Programs Director Adem Carroll wrote:

“On behalf of his government Mr Aye Aye Soe writes that ‘democratic change does not happen overnight.’ This is understood, but the illiberal model of development emphasizes development at the expense of human rights, leaving many communities disenfranchised. This is especially true of the stateless Rohingya minority.  

As the Special Rapporteur for Burma Yanghee Lee stated this week regarding the Burmese government’s avoidance of responsibilities, denial of rights, and noncooperation with the international community, ‘Just as we are told not to expect Myanmar to transition into a democracy overnight – that it needs time and space, Myanmar should also not expect to have special mechanisms dismantled overnight – not until there are real and discernible progress in the human rights situation.’

Persecuting any minority is a blot on any democracy, as we in the US have learned with our legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws. With its apartheid restriction on movement and voting and other rights, and its military repression, Burma cannot be said to be supporting the pluralism needed for democracy.”

We are still waiting for Aye Aye Soe’s response to these points.

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