Amnesty International strips Myanmar’s Suu Kyi of ‘conscience’ award

Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Singapore. Suu Kyi has been stripped of a series of international honors over a Rohingya exodus that began in 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 12 November 2018
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Amnesty International strips Myanmar’s Suu Kyi of ‘conscience’ award

  • Myanmar leader accused of perpetuating human rights abuses by not speaking out about violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority
  • The international human rights group named Suu Kyi as its 2009 Ambassador of Conscience Award recipient when she was still under house arrest

YANGON: Amnesty International has withdrawn its most prestigious human rights prize from Aung San Suu Kyi, accusing the Myanmar leader of perpetuating human rights abuses by not speaking out about violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
Once hailed as a champion in the fight for democracy, Suu Kyi has been stripped of a series of international honors over a Rohingya exodus that began in August 2017.
More than 700,000 members of the mostly stateless group fled across Myanmar’s western border into Bangladesh after the Myanmar military launched a crackdown in response to Rohingya insurgent attacks on the security forces.
UN-mandated investigators have accused the military of unleashing a campaign of killings, rape and arson with “genocidal intent.”
Suu Kyi’s administration rejected the findings as one-sided, and said the military action was engaged in a legitimate counterinsurgency operation.
The international human rights group named Suu Kyi as its 2009 Ambassador of Conscience Award recipient when she was still under house arrest for her opposition to Myanmar’s oppressive military junta.
In the eight years since she was released, Suu Kyi led her party to election victory in 2015 and set up a government the following year, but she has to share power with generals and has no oversight over the security forces.
Amnesty International said in a statement on Tuesday she had failed to speak out and had “shielded the security forces from accountability” for the violence against the Rohingya, calling it a “shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for.”
The global advocacy organization’s secretary general, Kumi Naidoo, wrote to Suu Kyi on Sunday saying the group was withdrawing the award because it was “profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defense of human rights.”
Zaw Htay, the Myanmar government’s main spokesman, did not pick up Reuters calls seeking comment on Monday.
In March, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum rescinded its top award from Suu Kyi and she has had other honors withdrawn, including the freedom of the cities of Dublin and Oxford, England, over the Rohingya crisis.
In September, Canada’s parliament voted to strip Suu Kyi of her honorary citizenship.
Critics have called for her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize to be withdrawn but the foundation that oversees the award said it would not do so.
Amnesty International also said Suu Kyi had not condemned military abuses in conflicts between the army and ethnic minority guerrillas in northern Myanmar and her government had imposed restrictions on access by humanitarian groups.
Her government had also failed to stop attacks on freedom of speech, it said.


Blasts heard in Maiduguri, northeast of Nigeria, before polls open

Updated 23 February 2019
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Blasts heard in Maiduguri, northeast of Nigeria, before polls open

  • The city is the birthplace of Boko Haram Islamists
  • Boko Haram has warned it will disrupt the elections

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: A series of explosions was heard in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Saturday, shortly before the opening of polls in presidential and parliamentary elections.

Multiple blasts were heard at about 6A.M. (0500 GMT), locals said. There was no immediate indication of the cause.

But the city is the birthplace of Boko Haram Islamists and has been repeatedly attacked during their nearly 10-year insurgency that has devastated the remote region.

Polls open at 0700 GMT, with President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general who has vowed to defeat the jihadists, seeking a second term.

Boko Haram has warned it will disrupt the elections.

One resident in the Gomari neighborhood of Maiduguri said: “I heard several explosions coming from the Bulumkutu area this morning but it’s unclear what is happening.

“There have been suspicions that it was an attack by Boko Haram but we don’t know yet.”

He added: “Late yesterday (Friday), some gunmen went into the house of a man in Gomari and shot him dead. We still don’t know the motive.”

Two other residents gave a similar account.

The early morning explosions in Maiduguri come after a Boko Haram attack late on Friday on Zabarmari village, some 10 kilometers outside Maiduguri.

The attack forced residents to flee into the city.