Rohingya crisis: Myanmar's Suu Kyi stripped off prestigious human right award

Frederick Owens
March 9, 2018

The museum said it is taking back the Elie Wiesel Award given in 2012 because of what it calls Aung San Suu Kyi's failure to oppose the ethnic cleansing and possible genocide of Myanmar's Rohingya minority.

"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", the museum wrote in a March 6 letter to the Myanmar leader.

The museum accused Suu Kyi of refusing to cooperate with United Nations investigators, promulgating hateful rhetoric on the Rohingya and denying reporters access to areas where alleged abuses have taken place.

United Nations rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said Wednesday that a similar body was needed for Myanmar, where senior United Nations officials have said the military is continuing to wage a campaign against the Rohingya Muslim ethnic group that amounts to "ethnic cleansing".

Since security forces renewed what they call "clearance operations" last August, more than 671,000 Rohingya, majority children, have fled Myanmar for neighboring Bangladesh with little more than accounts of the atrocities they witnessed. In 2015, her party won in a landslide victory and she became the state counselor.

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 mass displacements and killings of the Rohingya attributed to Myanmar's security forces.

In January US diplomat Bill Richardson resigned from a Suu Kyi-appointed panel set up to ease tensions with the Rohingya, assailing her for an "absence of moral leadership".

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More than 40,000 people have been "lost" and are presumed dead after being forced to migrate to neighboring Bangladesh, according to a report published by ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) earlier this month.

This is just the latest hit on Suu Kyi's popularity.

The Reuters journalists Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, investigating the deaths of 10 Rohingya men and their burial in a mass grave, were arrested and face 14 years in prison.

Ahead of Gilmour's trip, Myanmar's army deployed additional troops to the border with Bangladesh with the apparent aim of driving about 6000 Rohingya refugees staying in no-man's land into Bangladeshi territory.

"We understand the hard situation you must face in confronting decades of military misrule and violence in your country and that institutions still powerful constitutional role", the museum wrote to Suu Kyi.

Though she is Myanmar's civilian leader, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's power is limited in the face of the military's continued popularity and domination of the country's economy and its important institutions.

The U.N. has labeled the violence "ethnic cleansing" and has documented evidence of well coordinated and systemic violence, including rape, arson and extrajudicial killings. "Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented".

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