Aung San Suu Kyi

City of Oxford to strip Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi of award over treatment of Rohingya

Council leader backed the motion, reportedly calling it an “unprecedented step” for the local authority, according to the BBC

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 5:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 5:31pm

Aung San Suu Kyi will be stripped of the Freedom of the City of Oxford, where she studied as an undergraduate, over her response to the Rohingya crisis.

Oxford city council voted unanimously to support a cross-party motion that said it was “no longer appropriate” to celebrate the de facto leader of Myanmar. The council is to hold a special meeting to confirm the honour’s removal on November 27.

The council leader, Bob Price, supported the motion, reportedly calling it an “unprecedented step” for the local authority, according to the BBC.

In recent months, Suu Kyi has drawn increasing criticism for her apparent defence of Myanmar’s treatment of its Rohingya minority, described by the UN as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Oxford council bestowed the freedom of the city on her in 1997, when she was being held as a political prisoner by Myanmar’s military junta.

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The decision to strip her of the award comes after the Oxford college – where Suu Kyi studied – recently removed her portrait from public display.

The governing body of St Hugh’s college decided to remove the painting of the Nobel laureate from its main entrance.

A number of British institutions say they are reviewing or removing honours bestowed on Aung San Suu Kyi during her campaign for democracy.

Unison, the UK’s second largest trade union, announced last month that it would suspend Aung San Suu Kyi’s honorary membership and urged her to do more to denounce the plight of the Rohingya people.

Bristol University, one of a string of universities that awarded honorary degrees to Myanmar’s leader during her time in opposition, also said it was reviewing its award in light of accusations of brutal mistreatment of the Rohingya.

Comment: Don’t single out Aung San Suu Kyi for Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis

The London School of Economics student union said it would be stripping Suu Kyi of her honorary presidency.

As a leader of Myanmar’s opposition, Suu Kyi won international praise and a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Despite being barred from running for president, she won a decisive victory in the country’s 2015 election, and was eventually given the title of state counsellor.

Meanwhile, a major fundraising appeal has been launched to help the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing violence in Myanmar.

The 13 member charities who make up the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) took action to step up their humanitarian relief as more than half a million people sought medical care, food and sanctuary.

The majority have been Muslim Rohingya people, who have fled to Bangladesh amid atrocities and fatalities in Rakhine state, on Myanmar’s western coast, following clashes between insurgents and security forces in recent weeks.

The UK government has pledged to match the first £3 million (HK$31 million) donated by the public to the DEC emergency appeal.