Many years ago, a newspaper article about Aung San Suu Kyi, then an icon of resistance to the military, caused a sensation. The authoritative and pompous Journal de Geneve savaged the “Lady in Yellow,” declaring her guilty of being the daughter of an elite that, like elsewhere in the world, could educate her little ones in British universities and then let them pretend to be revolutionaries.
But Suu Kyi, who had not yet been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and had a lifetime house arrest in her future, was herself a daughter of the elite (her father had been the hero of the anti-Japanese resistance). But she was not pretending.
In 1988, the Burmese military, in power since 1962, still claiming a vague socialist principle, had drowned the revolt in blood for the umpteenth time, and Suu Kyi became much more than just an icon of resistance to the regime. The woman had courage to spare and an iron will masked by a disarming smile. She received the Nobel Prize in 1991. In 1999, when her English husband was dying in a European bed, the military gave her permission to travel for the last farewell. But she refused. She knew that if she left, she would never be allowed to return.
Seventeen years later, Suu Kyi, who for years has been the darling of every lover of freedom and rights, is still targeted. Faced with the mistreatment of a Muslim minority in the country she leads (she is not the prime minister, but it is as if she were), she remains silent. Not a word other than some perfunctory babble.