International organisations continue to withdraw honours from Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi

International organisations continue to withdraw honours from Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech to the nation over the Rakhine and Rohin
Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech to the nation over the Rakhine and Rohingya situation, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Sep 19, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya)

SINGAPORE: For many years, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi was the darling of the international community, lauded by global organisations and political leaders for her decades-long struggle to bring democracy and reform to the country.

However, she has subsequently faced a barrage of criticism over her country’s crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, with United Nations investigators branding the mass killings and gang rapes as actions with “genocidal intent”.

World leaders such as Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad have censured her over the alleged atrocities, with the 93-year-old statesman calling Aung San Suu Kyi’s responses “indefensible”.

During a meeting in November, United States Vice President Mike Pence also told the Nobel Laureate that the “persecution” by her country’s army was “without excuse”.

READ: Aung San Suu Kyi calls for peace in speech which avoids Rohingya crisis

Some have gone further than simply issue criticisms, with a number of organisations withdrawing the honours bestowed on Aung San Suu Kyi. This week, South Korea's May 18 Memorial Foundation became the latest body to make such a move. 

Although she will retain her Nobel Peace Prize, as the Nobel Committee rules do not allow for a prize to be withdrawn, many nations and international bodies have moved to distance themselves or cut ties with the once celebrated figure.

These are some of the awards and honours that have been rescinded over the Rohingya Muslim crisis:

GWANGJU HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD

The May 18 Memorial Foundation, one of South Korea’s largest human rights groups, on Dec 18 announced their move to withdraw Aung San Suu Kyi’s 2014 Gwangju Human Rights Award. 

A foundation spokesman said Aung San Suu Kyi’s “indifference to the atrocities against the Rohingya runs against the values the award stands for - protecting and promoting human rights”.

The foundation was set up in 1994 to commemorate the 1980 pro-democracy uprising in Gwangju, which ended in a bloodbath by martial law troops that left more than 200 people killed or wounded. 

AMBASSADOR OF CONSCIENCE AWARD

Amnesty International on Nov 13 withdrew its most prestigious human rights prize from Aung San Suu Kyi, accusing the Myanmar leader of perpetuating human rights abuses by not speaking out about violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Amnesty International said Aung San Suu Kyi had failed to speak out and had "shielded the security forces from accountability" for their violence against the Rohingya, calling it a "shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for".

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

ELIE WIESEL AWARD

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum rescinded its top award to Aung San Suu Kyi for her failure to condemn and stop military attacks on Myanmar’s minority Rohingya Muslims. The Myanmar leader was the first recipient of the Elie Wiesel Award in 2012.

In a letter that was posted on their website, the museum said Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy have refused to cooperate with United Nations investigators, fed hate attacks on the Rohingya and denied reporters access to areas where alleged abuses have taken place.

"It is with great regret that we are now rescinding that award. We did not take this decision likely," it added in the letter dated Mar 6.

FREEDOM OF THE CITY HONOURS

The cities of Paris, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, Sheffield, Dublin and Newcastle this year respectively moved to strip Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary freedoms.

A spokesperson for Paris Mayor Anne Hildalgo on Nov 30 said the decision was made because of the "multiple violations of human rights recorded in Myanmar and the violence and persecution by Myanmar's security forces against the Rohingya minority”. 

This makes Aung San Suu Kyi the first person to lose the freedom of the French capital, a purely symbolic award.

HONORARY CITIZENSHIP OF CANADA

Canada’s parliament voted unanimously on Sep 27 to effectively strip Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary Canadian citizenship. The decision was made over Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis, which Ottawa previously declared as genocide.

The Myanmar leader, who received the honour in 2007, has now become the first person to be stripped honorary Canadian citizenship. The award has only been granted to five others including the Dalai Lama, girls education advocate Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela.

READ: What does it matter if Canada strips Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary citizenship? A commentary

HONORARY PRESIDENCY, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS STUDENT UNION

The London School of Economics Student Union is expected to pass a vote removing the Nobel Laureate from her honorary presidency, the Independent reported on Nov 3.

Aung San Suu Kyi received the recognition in 1991, but the student union and senior members of the leadership have now tabled a motion to strip her honorary presidency to “act as a strong symbol of (the union’s) opposition to her current position and inaction in the face of genocide”, the report added.

Source: Agencies/CNA/zl

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