Suu Kyi was globally hailed as a freedom fighter who stood up to her country’s feared military junta. Picture: Getty
Suu Kyi was globally hailed as a freedom fighter who stood up to her country’s feared military junta. Picture: Getty

Peace icon stripped of human rights award

Amnesty International has withdrawn its highest honour from Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi in light of what it said was the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's "shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for".

The human rights organisation has announced that its secretary-general, Kumi Naidoo, informed Suu Kyi it was revoking her 2009 Ambassador of Conscience Award.

Amnesty has criticised the failure of Suu Kyi and her government to speak out about military atrocities against the Rohingya Muslim population.

Amnesty said it believes thousands of Rohingyas were killed in Myanmar's western Rakhine province since the campaign began August 2017.

Many more are thought to have been either tortured and raped.

Aung San Suu Kyi was hailed a hero after spending 15 years under house arrest for standing up to her country’s military junta. Picture: AP
Aung San Suu Kyi was hailed a hero after spending 15 years under house arrest for standing up to her country’s military junta. Picture: AP

Naidoo said on Monday that Amnesty expected Suu Kyi to use her "moral authority" to speak out against injustice wherever she saw it, especially in Myanmar.

"Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights," Naidoo told her.

"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 so far issued no public response.

It was the latest in a string of awards the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner 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.

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

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

Amnesty conceded that the civilian government 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 added that human rights campaigners and journalists continued to be detained and intimidated by the government since her party's victory.

Amnesty said it believes thousands of Rohingyas were killed in Myanmar’s western Rakhine province since the campaign began August 2017.
Amnesty said it believes thousands of Rohingyas were killed in Myanmar’s western Rakhine province since the campaign began August 2017.

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 added attention when she was visited by Hillary Clinton when the two-time US presidential candidate was still Secretary of State in 2011.

Suu Kyi then reaffirmed her commitment to working with the United States to bring democracy to her country of around 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.


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