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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Oxford college removes painting of Aung San Suu Kyi

St Hugh’s College, where Myanmar’s de facto leader studied, took down the portrait after international condemnation of her handling of the Rohingya crisis

Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi studied at St Hugh's College, Oxford, between 1964 and 1967. REUTERS/Soe Zeya
Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi studied at St Hugh's College, Oxford, between 1964 and 1967. REUTERS/Soe Zeya

The Oxford college where Aung San Suu Kyi studied as an undergraduate has taken down her portrait amid allegations that Myanmar has been carrying out ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya.

Ms Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, graduated from St Hugh’s College in 1967 with a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. The painting has hung near the college’s main entrance since 1999.

However, the college’s governing body has now decided to remove the portrait from public display and place it in storage, replacing it with a Japanese painting, according to the college’s student newsletter The Swan.

It comes as Ms Suu Kyi faces mounting international criticism over her role in Myanmar’s humanitarian crisis, which has seen more than 400,000 Muslims flee the country to neighbouring Bangladesh.

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The United Nations has described the treatment of the Rohingya minority, who have suffered violent attacks by Myanmar’s military forces, as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has also urged Ms Suu Kyi to end the atrocities against the Rohingya, and to allow them to return home.

St Hugh's College said: "The College received the gift of a new painting earlier this month which will be exhibited for a period.

"The painting of Aung San Suu Kyi has meanwhile been moved to storage.”

Ms Suu Kyi was awarded an honorary degree in June 2012, which Oxford University has so far decided not to reconsider.

However, last week, the university expressed its “profound concern” over the current climate in Myanmar. It added: “[The university] hopes the Myanmar administration, led by Oxford alumna Aung San Suu Kyi, can eliminate discrimination and oppression, and demonstrate to the world that Myanmar values the lives of all its citizens”.