In cases of complicity in crimes against humanity, it may be time to “walk on.”


Awkward, indeed.

The new U2 single is out, and an album will follow in December, but it comes at a time when one of Bono’s most highly visible causes is morphing snake eyes.

From May 31 , 2012.

Bono will present Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi with Amnesty International’s highest honor next month in Dublin, the Associated Press reports. Suu Kyi, who is heading out on her first international tour in 24 years, will visit Ireland on June 18th, a day after collecting her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. She was previously awarded the Nobel Prize in 1991 and Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience award in 2009, but could not accept either in person because she was under house arrest for 15 years.

Suu Kyi was elected to Parliament in Myanmar last month. She took office on May 2nd and began an international tour on Tuesday, beginning with a stop in Thailand. Suu Kyi won the 1990 election in Myanmar, also known as Burma, but the nation’s military refused to hand over power and detained her until November of 2010.

The song “Walk On” was written about Suu Kyi and performed hundreds of times in her honor.

As rock bands set on changing the world go, U2 has actually followed through and done some tangible good for important humanitarian causes. That doesn’t negate the fact that, for many, its sermonizing on the mount can be a turnoff. I felt that during one of the last times I saw the band in concert, where the sight of 50,000 upper-middle-class concertgoers pumping their fists in solidarity for detained Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi left me wondering how many of these people had heard her name before Bono said it—or would remember it on the drive home.

Now her name is back in the news.

Take away Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel peace prize. She no longer deserves it, by George Monbiot (The Guardian)

Once she was an inspiration. Now, silent on the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar, she is complicit in crimes against humanity

Few of us expect much from political leaders: to do otherwise is to invite despair. But to Aung San Suu Kyi we entrusted our hopes. To mention her name was to invoke patience and resilience in the face of suffering, courage and determination in the unyielding struggle for freedom. She was an inspiration to us all.

Friends of mine devoted their working lives to the campaign for her release from the many years of detention imposed by the military dictatorship of Myanmar, and for the restoration of democracy. We celebrated when she was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1991; when she was finally released from house arrest in 2010; and when she won the general election in 2015.

None of this is forgotten. Nor are the many cruelties she suffered, including isolation, physical attacks and the junta’s curtailment of her family life. But it is hard to think of any recent political leader by whom such high hopes have been so cruelly betrayed.

By any standards, the treatment of the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority in Myanmar, is repugnant. By the standards Aung San Suu Kyi came to symbolise, it is grotesque. They have been described by the UN as “the world’s most persecuted minority”, a status that has not changed since she took office.

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide describes five acts, any one of which, when “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”, amounts to genocide. With the obvious and often explicit purpose of destroying this group, four of them have been practised more or less continuously by Myanmar’s armed forces since Aung San Suu Kyi became de facto political leader.

I recognise that the armed forces retain great power in Myanmar, and that Aung San Suu Kyi does not exercise effective control over them. I recognise that the scope of her actions is limited. But, as well as a number of practical and legal measures that she could use directly to restrain these atrocities, she possesses one power in abundance: the power to speak out. Rather than deploying it, her response amounts to a mixture of silence, the denial of well-documented evidence, and the obstruction of humanitarian aid.

I doubt she has read the UN human rights report on the treatment of the Rohingyas, released in February. The crimes it revealed were horrific.

It documents the mass rape of women and girls, some of whom died as a result of the sexual injuries they suffered. It shows how children and adults had their throats slit in front of their families.

It reports the summary executions of teachers, elders and community leaders; helicopter gunships randomly spraying villages with gunfire; people shut in their homes and burnt alive; a woman in labour beaten by soldiers, her baby stamped to death as it was born.

It details the deliberate destruction of crops and the burning of villages to drive entire populations out of their homes; people trying to flee gunned down in their boats …

The author has made a decision.

This week, to my own astonishment, I found myself signing a petition for the revocation of her Nobel peace prize. I believe 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. There are two cases in which this appears to be appropriate. One is Barack Obama, who, bafflingly, was given the prize before he was tested in office. His programme of drone strikes, which slaughtered large numbers of civilians, should disqualify him from this honour. The other is Aung San Suu Kyi.

Please sign this petition. Why? Because we now contemplate an extraordinary situation: a Nobel peace laureate complicit in crimes against humanity.

I make these observations as an observer from afar, and an unapologetic fan of Bono and his band. I’m painfully aware of First World problems of the sheltered and well-fed, like me, as opposed to problems in other places, which involved Real World death and destruction.

And yet, if the Nobel Prize were to be revoked, what about the song?