Amnesty International has withdrawn its highest honor from Aung San Suu Kyi, in light of the Myanmar leader’s betrayal of the values she once stood for, a statement by the human rights group said Monday.
Amnesty’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo wrote to Suu Kyi to inform her the 2009 Ambassador of Conscience award would be revoked, the statement said.
The group expressed “grievous disappointment that she had not used her political and moral authority to safeguard human rights, justice or equality in Myanmar,” according to the statement.
Naidoo cited Suu Kyi’s “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,” Naidoo wrote.
He also said: “Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights.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.”
Since Aung San 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,” according to the statement.
Amnesty said it has “repeatedly criticized the failure of Aung San Suu Kyi and her government to speak out about military atrocities against the Rohingya population in Rakhine State.”
“During the campaign of violence unleashed against the Rohingya last year, the Myanmar security forces killed thousands of people, raped women and girls, detained and tortured men and boys, and burned hundreds of homes to the ground,” it 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,” Naidoo said.
“Her denial of the gravity and scale of the atrocities means there is little prospect of the situation improving for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya living in limbo in Bangladesh or for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who remain in Rakhine,” he said.
“Without acknowledgement of the horrific crimes against the community, it is hard to see how the government can take steps to protect them from future atrocities.”
Amnesty has also highlighted the situation in Kachin and northern Shan states, where Suu Kyi has failed to use her influence to condemn military abuses, to push for accountability for war crimes or to speak up for ethnic minority civilians who bear the brunt of the conflicts, the statement said.
Despite the power wielded by the Myanmar military, there are areas where the civilian-led government has considerable authority to enact reforms to better protect human rights, especially those relating to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
But in two-and-a-half years since the Suu Kyi’s administration assumed power, human rights defenders, peaceful activists and journalists have been arrested and imprisoned, while others face threats, harassment and intimidation for their work.
Amnesty said Suu Kyi was named as Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience in 2009, in recognition of her peaceful and non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.
“Amnesty International took Aung San Suu Kyi’s request that day very seriously, which is why we will never look away from human rights violations in Myanmar,” Naidoo said.
“We will continue to fight for justice and human rights in Myanmar - with or without her support.”
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.
The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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