Amnesty strips Suu Kyi of highest honour

Cropmyanmar

The former prisoner of conscience has been accused of presiding over human rights abuses

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12th November 2018 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Amnesty International has stripped its highest honour from Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

She was given the Ambassador of Conscience Award in 2009 – but it has now been revoked because of a “shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for.”

Suu Kyi, a former prisoner of conscience, has been accused of presiding over human rights abuses ethnic state against the Rohingya population of Myanmar’s Rakhine province.

Amnesty International’s secretary general Kumi Naidoo has written to her, informing her that the honour is now revoked.

He expressed the organisation's disappointment that she had not used her political and moral authority to safeguard human rights, justice or equality in Myanmar, citing her apparent indifference to atrocities committed by the Myanmar military and increasing intolerance of freedom of expression.

“As an Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience, our expectation was that you would continue to use your moral authority to speak out against injustice wherever you saw it, not least within Myanmar itself,” wrote Naidoo.

“Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights. 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.”   

Since Aung San Suu Kyi became the de facto leader of Myanmar’s civilian-led government in April 2016, her administration has been actively involved in the commission or perpetuation of multiple human rights violations.

Amnesty International has repeatedly criticised the failure of Suu Kyi and her government to speak out about military atrocities against the Rohingya population in Rakhine State, who have lived for years under a system of segregation and discrimination amounting to apartheid.

During the campaign of violence unleashed against the Rohingya last year the Myanmar security forces killed thousands, raped women and girls, detained and tortured men and boys, and burned hundreds of homes and villages to the ground.

More than 720,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh. A UN report has called for senior military officials to be investigated and prosecuted for the crime of genocide.

Although the civilian government does not have control over the military, Aung San Suu Kyi and her office have shielded the security forces from accountability by dismissing, downplaying or denying allegations of human rights violations and by obstructing international investigations into abuses.

Her administration has actively stirred up hostility against the Rohingya, labelling them as “terrorists”, accusing them of burning their own homes and decrying “faking rape”.

Meanwhile state media has published inflammatory and dehumanising articles alluding to the Rohingya as “detestable human fleas” and “thorns” which must be pulled out.