Rohingya violence: Calls for Aung San Suu Kyi's Nobel Peace Prize to be withdrawn over Burma crisis

Burmese leader accused of failing to prevent persecution after claiming violence is being caused by ‘terrorists’

Benjamin Kentish
Friday 08 September 2017 14:48
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Ms Suu Kyi was criticised last year for reportedly making an Islamophobic comment against a BBC journalist
Ms Suu Kyi was criticised last year for reportedly making an Islamophobic comment against a BBC journalist

Hundreds of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi to be stripped of her Nobel Peace Prize because of her country’s persecution of its Rohingya Muslim minority.

The leader of Burma’s National League for a Democracy, was given the prestigious award in 1991 for campaigning to make her country a democracy.

But more than 370,000 people have now signed a petition demanding the Nobel Committee withdraw the award, following increased violence against the mostly Muslim minority group in Burma’s Rakhine province.

Since becoming Burma’s leader last year, Ms Suu Kyi has been widely accused of failing to halt violence against the Rohingya. The latest bloodshed has resulted in 146,000 people fleeing the area, mostly into neighbouring Bangladesh.

United Nations agencies believe the figure could rise to 300,000 in the coming days.

The recent outbreak began when Rohingya insurgents attacked several police posts and an army base.

Observers say up to 1,000 people have been killed in recent days as military forces have destroyed villages. There are widespread reports of women being raped and civilians being murdered.

António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, said the violence could verge on ethnic cleansing.

Despite evidence that the crimes have been committed by the Burmese military, Ms Suu Kyi has blamed the violence on “terrorists” and claimed the controversy has been caused by “a huge iceberg of misinformation”.

The Burmese leader also faced criticism last year for reportedly making an Islamophobic remark following an interview with the BBC’s Mishal Husain.

Having been quizzed on her country’s treatment of the Rohingya, she allegedly said off-air: “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim.”

But in her Nobel lecture in 1991, Ms Suu Kyi said: “Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.”

Nobel rules do not allow awards to be withdrawn. Despite this, hundreds of thousands of people have signed an online petition demanding Ms Suu Kyi’s prize to be taken away.

The petition states: “The Nobel Prize is the highest prize only to be given to ‘people who have given their utmost to international brotherhood and sisterhood’.

“These peaceful values need to be nurtured by the laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize, including Suu Kyi, until their last days. When a laureate cannot maintain peace, then for the sake of peace itself the prize needs to be returned or confiscated by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.

“Therefore, we hereby demand the Chair of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee confiscate or take back the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi. Only those who are serious in keeping the world peace may be awarded such a coveted Prize.”

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