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Globe editorial: What has happened to Aung San Suu Kyi?

A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding on the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar, the country once known as Burma.

In the last two weeks, more than 120,000 people are believed to have fled Myanmar. The refugees are Rohingya, a mostly Muslim community described in a 2013 United Nations report as the world's most-persecuted minority.

What is happening now is being widely described as ethnic cleansing. Myanmar's army has been waging a ruthless campaign to crush Rohingya rebels in the northwest of the country, a campaign marked by widespread abuses against the local population. In recent days, the anti-Rohingya violence has escalated, sparking much of the population to flee to Bangladesh. The country's de facto leader, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has not exactly responded with full-throated condemnation.

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Instead, she has mostly shrugged as the ministries she controls disseminate anti-Rohingya propaganda and prevent travel to the conflict zone. Given her past eloquence on matters of injustice and human suffering, it would be an understatement to describe her current stance as disappointing.

After all, Ms. Suu Kyi was forcibly confined for decades by the same military that is murdering, raping and brutalizing civilians on behalf of a government she now leads.

It's true that the generals maintain a grip on many parts of the state, and she needs them to govern. But that's why this looks suspiciously like another triumph of realpolitik, and a trade of moral authority for political power. Fellow Nobel winners are clearly dismayed; several have called her out publicly.

Ms. Suu Kyi was recently in Ottawa to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who reportedly pressed her on the Rohingya file. Further prodding is evidently needed.

Perhaps Canada, which pledged $30 million to projects in Myanmar in June, might remind Ms. Suu Kyi of her 2012 Nobel acceptance speech: "Burma is a country of many ethnic nationalities and faith in its future can be founded only on a true spirit of union." Myanmar needs Ms. Suu Kyi to rediscover her voice.

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