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Aung San Suu Kyi's Elie Wiesel Award rescinded by US Holocaust Museum

Thursday March 8, 2018 9:32 AM, Agencies

Aung San Suu Kyi

New Delhi: The United States Holocaust Museum has revoked Elie Wiesel Award - a prestigious human rights award, given to Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader of Myanmar, over her failure to use her “moral authority” to halt a brutal military campaign, The Guardian reported.

In an official statement, the museum stated that the lack of action by the National League for Democracy (NLD), a social-liberal democratic political party founded and lead by the Myanmar State Counsellor, and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, against the genocide committed by the military against the Rohingya community, was the primary reason behind them stripping her of the award.

The Burmese military, allied with armed Buddhist civilians, has killed thousands of Rohingya in the western state of Rakhine since last August. About 700,000 more have fled to Bangladesh. The loss of the award – named after Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and one of the museum’s founders – comes as other admirers of Aung San Suu Kyi grow increasingly disillusioned.

The release stated that last November, the museum released a detailed finding based on research on the crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, termed as "mounting evidence of genocide" committed by the Myanmar military against Rohingya civilians since October 2016.

Instead of condemning and stopping the military's brutal campaign, the NLD refused to cooperate with United Nations investigators, propagated hate against the Rohingya community, and cracked down on journalists trying to uncover the scope of the crimes in the Rakhine State.

"As a living memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, the Museum stands in solidarity with victims of genocide and atrocity crimes and attempts to do for victims today what was not done for the Jews of Europe", the release by the museum, who "did not take this decision lightly" said quoting Elie Wiesel who had said, "Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented".

Frustration with her over the issue even caused former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson to quit a committee led by Suu Kyi that was meant to address issues in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

"She doesn't want any dissent. She doesn't want any advice or bad news and I think that's what's causing her enormous problems," Richardson told NPR. "She blames everything on the United Nations, the international community, human rights groups, the media. Nothing is her fault or her government's fault, and that's become a real problem, in my view."

In September 2017, a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi was removed and replaced with a Japanese painting by Oxford University, where she was previously awarded an honorary degree, amid criticism of her handling of the Rohingya crisis.

About two months later in the same year, the Glasgow City Council withdrew an honour bestowed upon Aung San Suu Kyi in the wake of the Rohingya crisis. The council had offered Suu Kyi the Freedom of Glasgow in 2009, when she was still under house arrest as Myanmar's pro-democracy leader. Glasgow's decision follows a similar decision by the city of Sheffield, which stripped Suu Kyi of the Freedom of Sheffield earlier this week, saying she had shown "wilful ignorance" of the crisis.

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