Hope for Myanmar’s success as a democracy is dwindling as weak leadership forms what The New York Times calls a “illiberal democracy.”
Myanmar’s form of democracy represents the majority but fails to take into account any needs or rights of minorities. As the Times points out, citizens of Myanmar indicated a strong support for democracy, but a stronger resistance to many of the values that make democracy effective.
The majority of Myanmar citizens support leadership with religious ties and oppose checks to the executive branch. Most citizens are not used to democracy and still view State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi as an infallible leader.
The result is a dominant Buddhist nationalist population and a highly persecuted Muslim or Rohingya population.
Fear of a coup has led to heavy restrictions on freedom the press and speech, while overall, a weak government has led to the almost complete unchecked persecution of Muslims, the Times reports.
The persecution and violence toward Muslims in Myanmar has led to what Business Insider says fits the definition of ethnic cleansing. Reports of mass destruction of the Rohingya Muslim population’s villages have been disputed by Myanmar’s ambassador to Japan and by the country’s top general, who said the reports were exaggerated.
Aung San Suu Kyi said she was appalled by the incidents and as Business Insider reports, an internal probe will investigate the conduct of soldiers.
According to Time Magazine, San Suu Kyi said military operations ceased on Sept. 5. However, recent Rohingya arrivals to Bangladesh report experiencing recent violence. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also responded, saying that Myanmar would be held accountable for these incidents.
The crisis has led to the persecution and mass exodus of Rohingya to Bangladesh. Mohammed Abul Kalam, joint secretary of the Bangladesh Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission, has said that this is a “gigantic task” for Bangladesh, as Time reports.
San Suu Kyi has made statements addressing injustices, but little progress in government reform has been made and ending the process of ethnic cleansing has been slow.