'This, we never imagined…'

11 Nov 201739

We first started campaigning for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi nearly two decades ago.

We did it as long-time Amnesty International supporters and, like so many others, because we were horrified by the brutality of the military and their repressions of basic freedoms.

U2's audience are known for their strong views and impatience for injustice, but this issue seemed off the charts in terms of fan involvement.  We did what we could from the stage to raise awareness, but so many of you jumped on this campaign and took it with you wherever you went… To your colleges, your homes, your friends, your governments.

When Aung San Suu Kyi was released, we punched the air.

When she came to Dublin to thank Ireland and Amnesty International, we Irish could not have been more proud.

When her party the NLD won a landslide in the elections and she stood her ground to become de-facto head of the country, an impossible journey seemed to be reaching its destination. We wanted to breathe a sigh of relief, but instead held our breath. She had built her reputation on her refusal to compromise her beliefs (as well as on the personal sacrifice that entailed), but forming a government requires a certain amount of pragmatism.  We feared the military's brutality would be quick to show itself again if she overstepped the mark, and while hopeful for progress, we wondered if we would find ourselves once again campaigning for her release.

But what has happened this year, and in particular these past months – this, we never imagined.

Who could have predicted that if more than 600,000 people were fleeing from a brutal army for fear of their lives, the woman who many of us believed would have the clearest and loudest voice on the crisis would go quiet. For these atrocities against the Rohingya people to be happening on her watch blows our minds and breaks our hearts.

On behalf of our audience who campaigned so hard for her, we reached out several times to speak to Aung San Suu Kyi directly about the crisis in her country and the inhumanity being directed at the Rohingya people. We expected to speak to her this week, but it appears this call will now not happen.

So we say to you now what we would have said to her: the violence and terror being visited on the Rohingya people are appalling atrocities and must stop. Aung San Suu Kyi's silence is starting to look a lot like assent. As Martin Luther King said: "The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people." The time has long passed for her to stand up and speak out.

We know that Aung San Suu Kyi has in front of her real complexities that the outside world cannot understand -- but nor should we have to. The complexity of the situation in Myanmar she inherited from her father did not sway her to compromise her ideals back in 1998, nor should it now.  At some point, a fragile balancing act becomes a Faustian pact.

We also believe we can't direct our anger solely in her direction. That plays right into the hands of those who are carrying out the violence. Min Aung Hlaing is not a widely recognised name outside Myanmar - it should be. This man is the Commander General in Chief of the Defence Services who answers to no-one when a security threat is declared.  While this in no way excuses her silence, Aung San Suu Kyi has no control, constitutional or otherwise, over his actions, and it is he who has authorised and overseen the terrorization of the Rohingya people under the guise of protecting Myanmar from terrorism. Condemning her and ignoring him is a mistake. If this horror of human rights abuses is to stop, and if the long-term conditions for resettlement of the Rohingya people are to ever occur, General Min Aung Hlaing and his military must be just as much the focus of international action and pressure as Aung San Suu Kyi and her civilian government. 

The band wanted to thank all of you who have taken action on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar in the past.  We campaigned together for her release in good faith. If you want to campaign again for peace and democracy in Myanmar, and take action to support the Rohingyas, please support Amnesty International's action here.

Adam, Bono, Edge, Larry.

You must be a logged-in member to add comments.
Dear Bono, the Edge, Adam and Larry Jr. thank you for addressing this issue and making your own statement. Trying to get attention to many causes like you do on a regular basis is better than doing nothing. Many of us- myself included- have learned great deal about many parts of world through your activism . I am sad by this outcome as well- shocked is a better word. As Confucius said," Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall." Time will show how this situation will be resolved. Love and respect always .
I hope that the statement by the band provides them the absolution they desperately seek.
Thanks for her release, thanks for the anger.
Thank you
Thank you for sharing our thoughts with us all. We all share your heartbreak, none of us could have foreseen this end to a campaign launched with the best intentions. Walk On is a beautiful song, may I suggest we rededicate it to the Rohingya people and all the refugees on our planet today fleeing starvation, persecution, and war, may they all Walk On with God to a better place. May we all Walk On and continue to share our voice to speak up for those who cannot. God Bless you, my brothers! See you on the eXperience tour! Maryam
thanks for the statement
must be heart breaking for supporting her release and then what's happening keep up the good work with all the causes
Thank you
I have been thinking about you boys and your thoughts on this horrendous situation, and have only now found this statement. So thank you for being our voice yet again. What did all the world leaders say to her at the recent conventions in Asia? I hope they put pressure on her. The last few months have been seen even more Rohingya flee. Desperate times are approaching. May there be a peaceful resolution soon.
Please return the Nobel Peace Aung, you
It is time for the Nobel committee to disavow the peace prize they gave to Aung. She is complicit in this genocide.
Thanks For Sharing Lads!
Who was to know this would happen, You campaigned in good faith and we stood beside you . We will stand beside you again !! One Love Jimi
Bravo U2
Et WALK ON .... pour toujours
Tracy M
Thank you for this honest assessment
I am relieved to see the Band's statement with regard to the current situation in the former Burma. My son, who intends to practice human rights law when he finishes law school, has, like his dad and I, been heartbroken by this development and his former hero's silence.
Stick to the music AND the politics, guy
You always kept your fingers on the pulse of both; I, and very many others, love and respect you for it. This statement had to be made, and I applaud you for doing so. You lobbied for Myanmar and their rightfully-elected leader from "Walk On" in the studio to your live shows for the U2360 tour. In short, you put your blood, sweat, and tears into the cause - you have every legitimate reason to air grievances about Myanmar. We share your disappointment in the silence from Myanmar in certain quarters, and, along with you, we hope for the observation of simple human decency there.
The message
Although a shame, it is not surprising. The message the band projected out and we as fans shouted, is just that.. a message. The new song "Get out of your own way" says it perfectly... I can sing it to you all night All night If I could, I’d make it alright Alright Nothing stopping you except what’s inside I can help you but it’s your fight Your fight Fight back Don’t take it lying down You gotta bite back The face of liberty’s starting to crack She had a plan until she got a smack In the mouth and it all went south Like freedom The slaves are looking for someone to lead them The master’s looking for someone to need him The promised land is there for those who need it most And Lincoln’s ghost said Get out of your own way Well said boys!!!
Thanks for clarifying
Thanks for clarifying your position. It was not good seeing the media coverage of the atrocities. Given U2 were staunch campaigners with massive public shows of support on 360 tour, the silence over these appalling events did not sit easy. So thanks for clarifying and attempting to use your position to stop the violence.
Thank you guys for this statement. I find it very important that you give your point of the view on the subject. And you have done this! Thanks for that! I have been a member of Amnesty International for years - and i still am .... because of you guys! I love you!
Stick to the music lads.
It's a bit like finding peace in Ireland - there'll always be bits of it you get , and bits you don't. I include myself in that. I think you under-estimate the fans that love you for the melody and not necessarily the message. I appreciate there are many more globally that would not share that view. Good luck with the new album. Brian.
Myanmar crisis
I first learned about Aung San Suu Kyi from the news but was surprised to see how much support she received from U2, then the fans during the 360 tour. I am disappointed to hear that she is powerless, if so, it was a waste for her party to win. She's impotent as a leader and cannot help the Rohingya people who I would think is also under her leadership? I cannot believe that she is unable to discuss this with Hlaing and try to convince him to discontinue the violence against the Rohingya people. But I am grateful to Adam, Edge, Bono and Larry for addressing it, because I wondered when a statement would be made. I will always love you guys.
the shev
Sad turn of events
So so sad that any doubt should hang over this woman but it doubt is in fact hanging over her
Government is always unjust.
Jeremiah 10:23, It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his own step......
The Struggle Continues
I only heard of Aung San Suu Kyi and her country during the .360 tour. I don't consider myself an activist but I did take to action as a result of U2's tribute of her plight. That being said, I'm thankful that the band has also held her accountable for the current situation and calling her out on her inaction of the struggle of the Rohingya people I still believe in taking action and supporting injustices in the world for those who need our voice. Keep on Rockin' the Free World.
My only friend, the end
That's... a kind of "the end of iNNOCENCE". Damn, why eXPERIENCE has to be earn in violence... is this will be the next album? Songs of vIOLENCE ? It's hard to keep faith in those troubled times, but I WANT TO BElieVE, so I believe in you, I believe for you ! I have a vision, television ! U2 is still a beacon for me, so if you walk away, I will follow. See you soon for the european eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE Tour. And thank you.
Walk on
i guess we won't be hearing this one for a while...
The World needs to act but probably won'
I have just watched Alex Crawfords distressing report on Sky News about the plight of the Rohingya people of Myanmar. World leaders need to watch this report and take action. Sadly past experience has shown that if/when they do eventually take action it will be too little too late.
Thank You
I appreciate your statement to us. I have been hoping that the band would be able to speak with Ang San Suu Kyi and perhaps have some positive influence; thank you for your efforts to do so. I continue to support you and Amnesty as you work for peace and justice.
U2&WE? Are for an PEACE-Full World;
Stop this regime against Inocent people who live under very very bad conditions. I saw teribile things on the Dutch television, this HAS to stop. Stop! The UN has to come in Action, take your responsibilty! Walk on mrs. Aung San Su Kiy, We? are underway with U2 to your country! Hold on! Love and Light, Detlev Lassche, the Vertigo Hunter. Miss You Sugar. .. ... ....
I'm pleased to see this statement by the band. Of course everyone was right to campaign for Ms Suu Kyi's release for all those years, and she is not solely in control of the country, but something now has to be done. The silence is deafening from her and her representatives, and this does indeed look like tactic assent to what is happening. I'm sure the situation is more complex than we realise, as government always is, but now is time to increase the international pressure on both the government and the military in Myanmar. This persecution and humanitarian crisis needs to be resolved and the Rohingyas need to be allowed to return to their homes in safety, and with a guarantee of full citizenship, both nominally and practically.
thank you U2
Thank you U2 for the powerful message and for clarifying its position on this sensitive issue. Let's hope Auang San Suu Kyi will find her voice again soon and the violence and brutality will stop, everywhere.
Better late than never
I'm relieved the band finally decided to weigh in on the situation. I cringe every time I think about being a part of the 360 tour and watching on as a crowd of people marched on stage wearing Aung San Suu Kyi masks with a video of her preaching against violence and hate playing in the background. Honest Abe's wise words come to mind: "nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power"
Go on guys we believe in u2
Thank you
Hi, Thank you for making a public statement on these important issues. The Rohingya situation is truely appalling. I’ve visited Bangladesh a few years ago, before this situation amped up into the masacre it’s turning into. I spoke to a politician who was very much of the option that the Rohingya are a Burmese problem, not for Bangladeshis to worry about. It seem politicians in Myanmar feel the opposite - it’s a Bangladesh problem. Everyone’s doing the “not my problem” hot potato dance and not many appear to care that our brothers and sisters are being murdered or are fleeing their homes in search of peace. It’s 2017! We shouldn’t still be arguing like children “I’m not touching it. You touch it”. Thank you for making a public statement. Hopefully a few more loud voices will join in and Myanmar may know they are being watched and change their behaviour. Thank you.
Freedom For All
It's absolutely horrific and can't begin to imagine the fear these innocent people live in. We need to keep fighting for freedom and peace for all. Thank you for your continued dedication to Amnesty and the Rohingyas.
Newer comments    1 - 30 of 39    Older comments


12 Jun, 2024

 Subscribers Special
Desire in Las Vegas.

3 Jun, 2024

A thousand shows and counting. Showtime with A J Rankin.

29 May, 2024

 Subscribers Special
Live from Vegas, 'Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World'

17 May, 2024

Check in to the (Red) Zone.


Related Topic