Human Rights organisation Amnesty International withdrew its highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, from Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday.
Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty’s Secretary General tweeted, “Aung San Suu Kyi once stood as a symbol of hope, courage and the undying defence of human rights in #Myanmar. @amnesty recognised her with our highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience award. Sadly, we can no longer justify this honour and today we are withdrawing the award.”
Naidoo also attached a letter he penned to Suu Kyi on November 11 that read, “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.”
“You have chosen to overlook and excuse the brutal oppression and crimes against humanity committed by the military against the Rohingya and against minorities in Kachin and the northern Shan States, and your office has actively shielded the military from international scrutiny and accountability. We have also been appalled to witness your administration spread hate narratives against minorities, fostering rather than challenging discrimination and hostility,” the letter by the Amnesty noted.
The organisation is “deeply alarmed” and “disappointed” by Suu Kyi’s “clear and consistent betrayal of the very values” she promoted for decades.
Highlighting the efforts made by Amnesty International for her release when she was kept under house arrest for 15 years during military rule, the letter mentioned, “As an organization which campaigned tirelessly for your release – and the release of all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar – we are dismayed that your government has not only failed to repeal or amend repressive laws but has actively used them to curb freedom of expression, and arrest and imprison human rights defenders, journalists and other peaceful activists. ”
“Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights.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. We will publicly announce the withdrawal two days from now, on 13 November,” the Secretary General’s letter to the Nobel Laureate stated.
A blog released by Amnesty International highlighted the atrocities meted out against the Rohingyas under Suu Kyi’s regime.
“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,” according to the human rights group who further mentioned a UN report that calls for the investigation of senior military officials for genocide.
The organisation strongly criticised Suu Kyi’s actions and opined, “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.”
The human rights watchdog also criticised Suu Kyi’s administration for failing to repeal repressive laws in the nation, including those that are used to imprison journalists and human rights activists in the nation.
The State Counsellor had previously defended a Yangon court verdict on the arrest of the two Reuters journalists who were investigating the Rohingya crisis in the country while speaking at the World Economic Forum on September 13 this year.
Suu Kyi, a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, is currently halfway through her term in office during which large-scale violence was unleashed against the Rohingyas in the Rakhine State and a clampdown on freedom of press was witnessed.
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‘Shameful Betrayal’: Amnesty Strips Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi of Highest Honour