WINDHOEK - Amnesty International this week announced that it has withdrawn its highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, from Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, in light her “shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for”.
On 11 November, Amnesty’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo wrote to Suu Kyi to inform her that the organisation was revoking the 2009 award.
Halfway through her term in office, and eight years after her release from house arrest, Suu Kyi disappointed her admirers such as Amnesty, which accused her of not having used her political and moral authority to safeguard human rights, justice or equality in Myanmar.
Amnesty cited 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.
Since 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 United Nations 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, 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, according to an Amnesty International press release.
Further, Suu Kyi’s 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.
“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,” Naidoo wrote to Suu Kyi. Naidoo in justifying Amnesty International’s position said: “Aung San Suu Kyi’s failure to speak out for the Rohingya is one reason why we can no longer justify her status as an Ambassador of Conscience. In 1991, Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.
2018-11-15 09:57:32 8 months ago