Remove the Aung San Suu Kyi Mural!

Remove the Aung San Suu Kyi Mural!

At present, close to a million Rohingya Muslims have been driven out of Burma and into refugee camps in Bangladesh as a result of deliberate ethnic cleansing by the Burmese army. While the plight of Rohingya Muslims has deep historical roots, the sudden upsurge in violence has been qualitatively different from anything in recent decades. Under the context of the legacy of British colonialism, and under the pretext of cracking down on radical Muslim insurgency, the government of Myanmar has unleashed a highly organized and systematic persecution of Rohingya Muslims from their lands in what has been described as by the UN Human Rights High Commissioner as “a textbook case of ethnic cleansing”. Consequently, entire Rohingya villages have been burned down, civilians are massacred, raped, and brutalized indiscriminately, and hundreds upon thousands of people are being forcibly displaced from their homes.

 

Despite the overwhelming evidence of human rights violations reported, Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and head of the civilian government in Myanmar, has explicitly denied the existence of the genocidal campaign currently unfolding against Rohingya Muslims. Aung San Suu Kyi, a long beloved puppet of Western imperialism, praised for her ‘civil courage’ and dedication to ‘western liberal values’, has effectively shown her true colours as a genocidal collaborationist.

 

The Revolutionary Student Movement, an organization that stands against all forms of oppression, adamantly denounces the figure of Aung San Suu Kyi for her role in the ongoing crimes against Rohingya Muslims. We categorically reject the appraisal and normalization of any and all leaders that legitimize or are responsible for the systemic oppression of ethnic and religious minorities.

 

Given our current political context, where Islamophobic tendencies are slowly being normalized and tolerated despite the very real danger that it poses to Muslim communities in Canada, it is doubly critical that we actively challenge and denounce it wherever it rears its ugly head. There are stark similarities between the Islamophobic campaign being carried out in Burma against the Rohingya, such as the 969 Movement, which claims to be defenders of their nation’s ethnic purity and religious values, and the various Islamophobic groups such as the Soldiers of Odin, the Proud Boys, and the Northern Guards that are spearheading the normalization of hatred towards Muslims communities in Canada. The violence currently experienced by Rohingya Muslims did not emerge from a vacuum. It is the consequence of decades, if not centuries of systematic marginalization, exclusion and oppression by the Burmese ethnic and religious majority. We are experiencing a similar phenomenon in Canada and we must therefore combat it before it further amplifies, lest similar horrors happen here too.

 

As such, we demand that CUSA removes the Aung San Suu Kyi mural located in the tunnels near the University Center and replace it with a mural that promotes solidarity and equality between all ethnicities and religious creeds. There is no space on our campus for the appraisal of Islamophobes and apologists of ethnic cleansing. Furthermore, we urge Carleton students to join us in demanding that the administration revokes Aung San Suu Kyi’s honorary degree given to her by the University in 2011. We also demand that the administration explicitly condemn Aung San Suu Kyi’s position towards the crimes being committed against Rohingya Muslims.

Revolutionary Student Movement Carleton Chapter

Statement of RSM Carleton on the OPIRG Carleton Eviction Crisis

Statement of RSM Carleton on the OPIRG Carleton Eviction Crisis

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The Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM) – Carleton is disappointed in the agreement reached between the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) – Carleton and the Carleton University Students Association (CUSA). We consider this to be an unqualified victory for CUSA. It is now apparent that CUSA executives can easily get away with threatening to destroy progressive spaces on campus and extort money from them without any organized resistance.

The deal that OPIRG signed with CUSA is a defeat for all radical, militant, progressive Carleton students and community members. Having to pay 3,600$ more every year for the rent of the space in exchange for a 7 month lease is a terrible deal. Instead of funding research and working groups, this money will now go to pay for an outrageous salary increase that CUSA executives have set for themselves.

The conduct of OPIRG board and staff creates a dangerous precedent where instead of relying on an open, democratic decision making process that involves as many members as possible, the course of action that was taken was negotiations behind closed doors with the very people that want OPIRG gone from Carleton.

To add to that, the board ignored the calls of the membership to vote on a militant response to the crisis at an open meeting, instead deciding that it knows better and that a petition coupled with secret negotiations is the best way forward.

Instead of fostering a culture of grassroots, active, militant resistance to reactionary attacks this creates a culture of top-down, secretive deals behind closed doors and discourages militant students from taking action to defend progressive spaces and organizations.

Let us be perfectly clear: the RSM Carleton maintains that this approach is ineffective, since it does not rely on students and community members as a base of support and makes OPIRG even more vulnerable to future attacks. As these negotiations showed, when OPRIG and CUSA sit down at the negotiating table, CUSA has the power. The only thing that can force CUSA’s hand in these situations is a mobilization of OPIRG’s membership around direct action to defend the space. Without this type of mobilization, CUSA is able to dictate the terms of the agreement. Thus, instead of engaging its membership, the OPIRG board opted to sign a shorter-term lease with worse terms.

We would like to encourage the OPIRG Carleton board to be open to criticism from its members, and respond to said criticism in an honest, constructive fashion. Criticism leveled by the RSM and other OPIRG members is in no way an attempt to attack OPIRG, but rather is an attempt to strengthen OPIRG as an organization through the struggle of ideas.

We call on all radical, militant and progressive students to closely follow the developments concerning OPIRG that will come in the next 7 months and to be prepared to take action in case of another reactionary attack on OPIRG. We fully expect that CUSA will try and evict OPIRG again when the newly signed lease is up; we will need to defend OPIRG when such a time comes.

It is only through a mobilization of OPIRG’s membership and direct action that we can truly realize the power that we possess, a power greater than any student union bureaucrats can levy: strength in numbers and the conviction to build a better world.

We can save OPIRG.