WASHINGTON — Amnesty International has withdrawn its highest honor from Aung San Suu Kyi, the former human rights activist now de facto civilian head of Myanmar, because of her apparent lack of effort to stop what many have called the genocide of Rohingya refugees.
In a statement Monday, the organization said it is taking back the Ambassador of Conscience award from Suu Kyi because of her “apparent indifference” to the Rohingya Muslim harassment, segregation, rape, torture, abuse and exodus.
The group had honored her with the award in 2009, when she was under house arrest for her work as a human rights activist. She was under house arrest for 15 of the 21 years from 1989 to 2010, according to Amnesty International.
“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,” Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International Secretary General, said in a letter to Suu Kyi.
“Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defense of human rights.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,” he wrote.
The letter was posted on Amnesty International’s web site.
Suu Kyi, now 73, became the de facto leader of Myanmar’s civilian-led government in April 2016. She was released from house arrest eight years ago, held by the same government she is now in the ranks.
Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. In October Lars Heilensten, the head of the Nobel Prize Foundation, said she would not have that honor withdrawn despite administration as Myanmar’s civilian head, the Independent reported.
However, other honors have been withdraw including the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s Elie Wiesel award and the Freedom of the City of Oxford award, where she attended university, according to news reports.