Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi was on March 7, 2018 stripped off her human rights award conferred by US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Museum announced that it was withdrawing Suu Kyi's Elie Wiesel Award, which they had presented to her in 2012. The decision was taken following the ongoing violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority community in the Rakhine state of Myanmar.
In a letter to Suu Kyi, Museum Director Sara Bloomfield insisted that they did not take this decision lightly, but were compelled to act in light of the mass displacements and killings of the Rohingyas at the hands of Myanmar's security forces.
Bloomfield further wrote in her letter, “as the military's attacks against the Rohingyas unfolded in 2016 and 2017, we had hoped that you -- as someone we and many others have celebrated for your commitment to human dignity and universal human rights -- would have done something to condemn and stop the military's brutal campaign and to express solidarity with the targeted Rohingya population.”
Instead, Suu Kyi's political party refused to cooperate with UN investigators, spread a hateful campaign against the Rohingya community calling them terrorists and denied access and ordered a crackdown against journalists trying to uncover the violence in Rakhine state.
About Elie Wiesel Award
• The award is named after late Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel who, like Suu Kyi, is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
• Wiesel served as the Chairman of the Presidential Commission on the Holocaust, which was later renamed as the US Holocaust Memorial Council, from 1978 to 1986, spearheading the building of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
• The museum gives away the ‘Elie Wiesel’ award to internationally prominent individuals whose actions have advanced the Museum’s vision of a world where people confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.
• Elie Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for speaking out against violence, repression, and racism.
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• Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has drawn international criticism over her inaction in the persecution of the Rohingyas in Rakhine state by Myanmar military which forced more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims to seek refuge in neighbouring nations, creating one of the world's biggest refugee crisis.
• While the United Nations described the violence and mass migration as 'a textbook example of ethnic cleansing', Suu Kyi has denied all the allegations.
• Earlier this week, the United Nations stated that the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar continues even today.
• The Myanmar military’s campaign against the Rohingya reportedly began in northern Rakhine following a coordinated assault by the Rohingya insurgent movement on August 25, 2017.
Coming to the revoking of the award, this is not the first such instance, as, since the eruption of the Rohingya crisis, several institutions have begun distancing themselves from the leader.
Other Honours withdrawn from Suu Kyi
• In November 2017, Suu Kyi was stripped of the Freedom of the City of Oxford award, which honoured her in 1997 for her opposition to oppression and military rule in Burma.
• In September, 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, under-graduates at the college voted to remove her name from the title of their junior common room.
• The City of London Corporation has also been debating over revoking Suu Kyi's Honourary Freedom, bestowed upon her earlier in 2017.
• Prior to Oxford, the cities of Sheffield and Glasgow stripped the Burmese leader of their Freedom of the City awards.
• The Nobel Institute has however stated that it is not possible to strip a Nobel Peace Prize laureate of his or her award once bestowed.