x

Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Amnesty International strips Aung San Suu Kyi of its highest honour

Rights group condemns her 'indifference' to the atrocities committed by the military against Rohingya Muslims

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi pays respects to her late father at a ceremony marking the 71st anniversary of Martyrs' Day in Yangon, in July 2018. AFP
Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi pays respects to her late father at a ceremony marking the 71st anniversary of Martyrs' Day in Yangon, in July 2018. AFP

Amnesty International on Monday stripped Aung San Suu Kyi of its highest honour over the de facto Myanmar leader's "indifference" to the atrocities committed by the military against Rohingya Muslims.

It was the latest in a series of awards the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner has lost since Myanmar's military drove 720,000 Rohingya out of the Buddhist-majority country, in what the United Nations has called an act of genocide.

The London-based global human rights organisation said it was revoking the Ambassador of Conscience Award it gave Ms Suu Kyi in 2009 while she was under house arrest.

"Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage and the undying defence of human rights," Amnesty International chief Kumi Naidoo said in a letter to Ms Suu Kyi.

"Amnesty International cannot justify your continued status as a recipient of the Ambassador of Conscience award and so with great sadness we are hereby withdrawing it from you."

Amnesty said it informed the 73-year-old of the decision on Sunday. She has issued no public response.

Ms Suu Kyi was globally hailed as a freedom fighter who stood up to her country's feared military junta while spending 15 years under house arrest.

Her plight received additional attention when she was visited by Hillary Clinton when the two-time United States presidential candidate was Secretary of State, in 2011.

Ms Suu Kyi then reaffirmed her commitment to working with the US to bring democracy to her country of 50 million people.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept to power in a 2015 landslide that brought hope of Myanmar correcting injustices inflicted over 50 years of brutal military rule.

But her tenure has been marred by a failure to speak up for Rohingya Muslims. Her government is also fighting an uphill struggle against corruption and local conflicts.

_______________

Read more:

UN humanitarian coordinator urges action on Rohingya refugees

Aung San Suu Kyi's silence about the Rohingya shows how her mind really works

US accuses Myanmar military of Rohingya atrocities

_______________

Amnesty said it believes thousands of Rohingyas were killed in Myanmar's western Rakhine province since the campaign began in August last year. Many more are thought to have been tortured and raped.

Myanmar has justified the military's actions as necessary to combat terrorism.

Amnesty conceded that the civilian government Ms Suu Kyi informally heads does not directly control the powerful security services. But it accused her of standing up for the crimes and "obstructing international investigations into abuses".

It said that human rights campaigners and journalists continued to be detained and intimidated by the government since her party's victory.

Ms Suu Kyi was stripped of her honorary Canadian citizenship last month over her failure to speak up for the Rohingyas.

She has also lost smaller awards from individual universities and local and regional governments.