Amnesty International has stripped Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi of its most prestigious human rights prize over her failure to speak out about violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority, calling it a “shameful betrayal”.
The UK-based human rights group said in a statement on Monday that Suu Kyi had “shielded the security forces from accountability” for the violence against the Rohingya, describing it a “shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for”.
The group had 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.
Suu Kyi, who was once hailed as a champion in the fight for democracy, has been stripped of a series of international honors over the Rohingya exodus that began in August 2017.
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmarese soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017, when many of the surviving members of the community started fleeing to Bangladesh en masse.
More than 700,000 members of the mostly stateless group fled across Myanmar’s western border into Bangladesh after the Myanmar military’s crackdown.
Back in August, a UN investigation into the acts of violence in Myanmar concluded that the military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya Muslims with “genocidal intent” and called for the prosecution of the commander-in-chief and five generals of Myanmar’s army.
The UN report blamed Suu Kyi for failing to prevent the violence and said the military had planned the genocide long before accusing a group in Rakhine of attacking the country’s security personnel, an excuse made by Myanmar for the violent crackdown on the Muslim community.
Myanmar has rejected the UN report, despite massive evidence that began to emerge even long before that report.
The Rohingya — who have lived in Myanmar for generations — are denied citizenship and are branded illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which likewise denies them citizenship.