Aung San Suu Kyi is set to be stripped of her Freedom of Edinburgh award for refusing to condemn the army-led violence against the Rohingya in Burma, described by the UN as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing."
By stripping Suu Kyi of the accolade, Edinburgh will follow in the footsteps of Oxford, Glasgow, and Newcastle, which also took away Suu Kyi’s Freedom of the City awards.
Frank Ross, a senior city official in the British city of Edinburgh, wrote to Suu Kyi in November of last year, calling on her “immeasurable moral courage and influence” to ensure the safe return of the Rohingya to the Rahkine region of Burma, according to the Guardian.
After no reply from Suu Kyi, Ross put in motion on Thursday, Aug. 16, a process that will culminate with her Freedom of the City award being taken away.
Suu Kyi received the award in 2005 in recognition of her role as an advocate for peace and democracy in Burma, where she was living under house arrest.
Military-led MassacresBut in her role as state counselor in Burma, Suu Kyi has repeatedly refused to speak out against the violence committed by the military on the Rohingya.
Human rights groups widely report that since a military-led crackdown of the Rohingya was launched in August of last year, more than 700,000 people have fled over the border to Bangladesh.
Entire villages have been wiped out, tens of thousands have been killed–including children–and women assaulted and raped.
Burmese security forces have engaged in violent campaigns against ethnic minority communities across Burma, including ethnic cleansing, massacres, sexual assault, extrajudicial killings, and other serious human rights abuses,” said Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker.
Meanwhile, in tandem with Suu Kyi’s persistent silence, her international reputation has become tarnished.
The Rohingya as PerpetratorsThe narrative of the Rohingya as victims of unprovoked violence has been challenged by the emergence of evidence of mass slaughter perpetrated by the Rohingya against Hindu villagers.
Yet despite evidence that massacres have been carried out by the Rohingya, rights groups say the state-sanctioned violence against them is disproportionately more severe.
Suu Kyi 'Living in a Bubble'U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson, who in January quit his job on an international panel advising the Burmese government on the Rohingya crisis, said Suu Kyi is “living in a bubble” and has developed a “siege mentality.”
“And I think Aung San Suu Kyi has brought this upon herself, the constant disparagement of the international community, which I think can be helpful to her … She seems isolated. She doesn’t travel much into the country. I think she’s developed a classic bubble.”
Richardson resigned from the advisory board during the panel’s first visit to troubled Rakhine state, saying it was conducting a “whitewash.”
The former governor of New Mexico said Suu Kyi lacks “moral leadership” and that the panel was a “whitewash” and a “cheerleading squad for the government.”
Other revocations of awards from Suu Kyi include the high-profile Elie Weisel award given by the U.S. Holocaust museum.