BURMA’S (Myanmar) State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has been stripped of the Freedom of the City of Oxford honour after her failure to act in response to the Rohingya refugee crisis.
According to the BBC, Oxford city council voted on Monday to permanently remove the honour Suu Kyi was granted in 1997 for her “long struggle for democracy.”
“Today we have taken the unprecedented step of stripping her of the city’s highest honour because of her inaction in the face of oppression of the minority Rohingya population,” said city councillor Mary Clarkson who proposed the motion.
Clarkson said that as a “diverse and humane city,” Oxford could no longer honour those who “turn a blind eye to violence.” She added that she hoped the move would add to the chorus of voices calling for human rights and justice for the Rohingya people.
More than 620,000 Rohingya refugees have fled across the border to Bangladesh since Aug 25, when a new outbreak of fighting began between Burma’s military and armed militants in Rakhine State. The United Nations has called the clearing operations a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and accused the military of massacres, systematic gang-rape of Rohingya women, and burning of villages.
While Suu Kyi does not directly control the armed forces, her failure to denounce the military or address the allegations of ethnic cleansing has met with widespread criticism from world leaders and rights groups that once held her as a beacon of hope in the former military dictatorship.
St Hugh’s College, Oxford, Suu Kyi’s alma mater, has also removed her portrait from display. Oxford is where the former political prisoner met her husband, research fellow Michael Aris, in 1972 before living in the city with their two sons. She also received an honorary degree from the University of Oxford in 2012.