Amnesty International takes back its highest honor from Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi has had other honours withdrawn including the freedom of the city of Dublin

Yesterday, Amnesty International withdrew its highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, from Suu Kyi, accusing her actions as "shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for".

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

Though the civilian government does not have control over the military, Amnesty said 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 worldwide investigations into abuses".

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

"Amnesty International can not 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.

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at a business forum on the sidelines of the 33rd ASEAN summit in Singapore on November 12, 2018.

Many are believed to have been either murdered or tortured and raped.

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But under her watch, a campaign of violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority has resulted in thousands of deaths and a refugee population of more than 700,000 living in camps across the border in Bangladesh.

The last time Ms Suu Kyi spoke to the BBC in April 2017, she said: "I think ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening".

In the two years since Aung San Suu Kyi's administration assumed power, however, human rights defenders, peaceful activists and journalists have been arrested and imprisoned while others face threats, harassment and intimidation for their work.

Aung San Suu Kyi's administration rejected the United Nations findings as one-sided, and said the military action was engaged in a legitimate operation against armed rebels.

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

South Africa's Amnesty International exec Shenilla Mohamed says the decision to strip away the honour was not taken lightly. It was not an easy decision for us. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Sara Bloomfield, director of the Holocaust Museum said their "decision" had not been made "lightly".

"Someone who has been detained before should know the sufferings and should not inflict it on the hapless", Mahathir told reporters in a reference to Suu Kyi´s long years of house arrest under Myanmar´s military junta.

We no longer feel that as Amnesty International we can be associated with her.
The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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