Myanmar Leader Stripped of Honor Amid Ethnic Cleansing Claims

De facto leader of Myanmar criticized for downplaying the issue
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2017 4:47 PM CDT
Oxford Strips Suu Kyi of Honor Amid Ethnic Cleansing Controversy
In this Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017 file photo, Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a televised speech to the nation at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.   (AP Photo/File)

(Newser) – Oxford recognized Aung San Suu Kyi for her struggle to bring democracy to Myanmar when the city gave her the honorary Freedom of Oxford title in 1997. On Monday night, city councilors decided to withdraw the honor, CNN reports. Suu Kyi, the longtime activist turned de facto leader of Myanmar, has been criticized for her response to accusations of ethnic cleansing in her nation; nearly half a million members of the Rohingya Muslim minority have fled to neighboring Bangladesh due to violence in recent weeks, but Suu Kyi has downplayed the issue and dismissed claims of sexual violence against Rohingya women. The council wrote to Suu Kyi asking her to "stop the ethnic cleansing," but received no response. The withdrawal of the honor will be finalized at the council's next meeting.

The BBC reports that other organizations are similarly reconsidering honors previously bestowed upon Suu Kyi. But a Nobel Peace Prize committee chair said last month that it's not possible for Suu Kyi to be stripped of her Peace Prize. "We do not have the mandate, nor is it our task to evaluate what Nobel laureates do after they have won the prize," the chair said at the time. (Read more Aung San Suu Kyi stories.)

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