"In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize ... to Aung San Suu Kyi," the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced in 1991, it wished "to honour this woman for her unflagging efforts and to show its support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means".
Suu Kyi, the Committee added, was "an important symbol in the struggle against oppression".
Fast forward 24 years, and the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar might disagree with the dewy-eyed assessment of the five-member Nobel Committee. And with Gordon Brown, too, who called Suu Kyi "the world's most renowned and courageous prisoner of conscience". Not to mention Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has said that the people of Myanmar "desperately need the kind of moral and principled leadership that Aung San Suu Kyi would provide".
In recent years, the Rohingya Muslims - "the world's most persecuted minority", according to the United Nations - have struggled to attract attention to their plight.
Until, that is, a few weeks ago, when thousands of Rohingya refugees began arriving in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, while thousands more are believed to be still stranded on rickety boats off the coasts of these three countries, with dwindling supplies of food and clean water.
'So hungry, so skinny'
"Fisherman Muchtar Ali broke down in tears when he set eyes on the overcrowded boat carrying desperate, starving Rohingya off the coast of Indonesia," noted a report by AFP on May 20.
"I was speechless," Ali told AFP. "Looking at these people, me and my friends cried because they looked so hungry, so skinny."
These Rohingya "boat people", however, are a symptom of a much bigger problem. As Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Researcher, has observed: "The thousands of lives at risk should be the immediate priority, but the root causes of this crisis must also be addressed. The fact that thousands of Rohingya prefer a dangerous boat journey they may not survive to staying in Myanmar speaks volumes about the conditions they face there."
Those oppressive conditions range from a denial of citizenship to Myanmar's 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims to severe restrictions on their movement, employment and access to education and healthcare, as well as a discriminatory law imposing a "two child" limit on Rohingya families in their home state of Rakhine.
Her refusal to condemn, or even fully acknowledge, the state-sponsored repression of her fellow countrymen and women, not to mention the violence meted out to them by Buddhist extremists ... makes her part of the problem, not the solution.