Human rights organisation Amnesty International on Monday said it has revoked an honour it had given Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2009. In a letter to Suu Kyi on Sunday, the organisation said it was “profoundly dismayed that [Suu Kyi] no longer represent[s] a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights”.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,” Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo wrote to Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi received the Ambassador of Conscience Award – the organisation’s highest honour – in 2009, while she was under house arrest in her country. “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,” Naidoo said in the letter.
Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy came to power in 2015 in a landslide victory, ending decades of military rule in Myanmar. Suu Kyi, who is the country’s de facto leader, has been criticised for failing to stand up for more than one million stateless Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.
Myanmar treats Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not acknowledge their rights as an official ethnic group. The community has been subjected to violence by the Buddhist majority in Myanmar and by the Army. In the last two years especially, the violence has led over seven lakh Rohingya to flee to neighbouring countries.
Other countries and organisations have previously revoked honours conferred upon Suu Kyi. In October, Canada officially revoked the honorary citizenship it had granted Suu Kyi for her alleged failure to prevent crimes committed by Myanmar’s security forces against Rohingya Muslims.
There have been demands to to revoke Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize awarded in 1991. The Nobel Foundation in October said it will not withdraw her prize, but described Suu Kyi’s actions taken in Myanmar as regrettable.
In August, United Nations investigators said Myanmar’s military carried out mass killings and gangrapes with “genocidal intent”, and the commander-in-chief and five generals should be prosecuted for the gravest crimes under international law.