The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has rescinded a distinguished human rights award it presented to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate and civilian leader of Myanmar, for not stopping or recognizing the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim population in her Southeast Asian country.
The Washington-based museum honored Aung San Suu Kyi with the Elie Wiesel Award in 2012, but announced Tuesday it had been rescinded.
A museum statement said that under her leadership, the National League for Democracy has refused to cooperate with the United Nations, promoted hate speech against the Rohingya and actively worked to prevent journalists from exposing “the scope of the crimes” in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
It said, “As the military’s attacks against the Rohingya unfolded in 2016 and 2017, we had hoped that you — as someone we and many others have celebrated for your commitment to human dignity and universal human rights — would have done something to condemn and stop the military’s brutal campaign and to express solidarity with the targeted Rohingya population.”
The museum said Myanmar’s military attacks and other acts of oppression against the Rohingya have become “progressively worse” during the past five years and demanded that Aung San Suu Kyi use her “moral authority to address this situation.”
The museum also called on Aung San Suu Kyi to use her “unique standing” to cooperate with the U.N. Human Rights Council and Myanmar’s Situation of Human Rights “to establish the truth about the atrocities committed in Rakhine State and secure accountability for perpetrators.”
As Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi’s authority is restricted by the military’s influence over many of the country’s institutions. Her position of state counselor was created after her National League for Democracy party’s 2015 election victory. She was constitutionally prohibited from assuming the presidency because her husband and two children are British nationals.
Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled from Buddhist-dominated Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh since last August to escape a brutal crackdown by Myanmar security forces the United Nations has said amounts to ethnic cleansing. Rohingya witnesses and human rights activists have accused the armed forces of committing murder, rape and arson.
Myanmar has long considered the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and has denied them citizenship and basic rights.