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Amnesty International strips Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi of 'Ambassador of Conscience' Award

Suu Kyi, the Burmese State Counsellor, has been widely criticised for turning a blind eye to the violence and military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state that forced more than 700000 Rohingya Muslims to seek refuge in Bangladesh, creating one of the world's biggest refugee crisis.

Nov 13, 2018 10:09 IST
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Amnesty International on November 12, 2018 stripped Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi of its highest honour, the ‘Ambassador of Conscience’ award, over her indifference to atrocities committed by the Myanmar military against  and increasing intolerance of freedom of expression.

The Amnesty International, an international human rights group, named Suu Kyi as its 2009 Ambassador of Conscience Award recipient when she was still under house arrest for her opposition to Myanmar's oppressive military.

However, considering her failure to speak out and her shielding of the security forces from accountability for the violence against the Rohingya, the organisation withdrew the honour from her.

What led to this move?

Suu Kyi, the Burmese State Counsellor, has been widely criticised for turning a blind eye to the violence and military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state that forced more than 700000 Rohingya Muslims to seek refuge in Bangladesh, creating one of the world's biggest refugee crisis.

A United Nations fact-finding mission recently found that the Myanmar military was committing genocide against the Rohingyas, the minority Muslim population; and other ethnic minorities and in the middle of all this, Suu Kyi had failed in her duty to protect her own citizens.

The report names six military commanders in Myanmar who should be investigated for genocide in Rakhine state and for crimes against humanity in other areas.

The report condemns Suu Kyi for failing to use her power to prevent the genocide and fulfil her responsibility to protect the civilian population, thus, leading to mass murder, rape and displacement.

However, Suu Kyi's administration rejected the findings as one-sided, and said the military action was engaged in a legitimate counter-insurgency operation.

Other honours withdrawn from Suu Kyi

Once hailed as a champion in the fight for democracy, Suu Kyi has been stripped of a series of international honours over a Rohingya evacuation that began in August 2017.

• In September 2017, the governing body of St Hugh's College at Oxford University, Suu Kyi's alma mater, decided to remove a painting of her from its main entrance.

• In October 2017, under-graduates at the college voted to remove her name from the title of their junior common room.

• At the beginning of November 2017, musician Bob Geldof returned his Freedom of the City of Dublin award, which is also held by Suu Kyi in protest against her response to the Rohingya crisis.

• The cities of Sheffield and Glasgow stripped the Burmese leader of their Freedom of the City awards.

Canada's largest trade union, Unifor, also withdrew the honorary membership that it had awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi in 2000.

• The Oxford City Council on November 27, 2017 voted unanimously to permanently revoke the ‘Freedom of the City’ honour awarded to Suu Kyi in 1997, which she personally collected in 2012, after spending 15 years under house arrest.

• Suu Kyi was on March 7, 2018 stripped of her human rights award conferred by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

•On October 3, 2018, the Canadian Senate stripped Suu Kyi of the honorary Canadian citizenship for her role in gross human rights violations against the Rohingya people.

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