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YANGON: Amnesty International has withdrawn its most prestigious human rights prize from Aung San Suu Kyi, accusing the Myanmar leader of perpetuating human rights abuses by not speaking out about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wrote to Suu Kyi on Sunday saying the group was withdrawing the award because it was “profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defense of human rights.”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.


Japan drops ‘maximum pressure’ on North Korea from diplomatic book

Updated 23 April 2019
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Japan drops ‘maximum pressure’ on North Korea from diplomatic book

  • Language was dropped after consideration of latest developments surrounding North Korea
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seen as a foreign policy hawk, has also softened his rhetoric toward North Korea

TOKYO: Japan on Tuesday dropped the push to apply “maximum pressure” on North Korea from its official foreign policy, an apparent softening of Tokyo’s position as major powers engage with Pyongyang.
In last year’s “Diplomatic Bluebook,” published when tensions on the Korean peninsula were soaring, Japan said it was coordinating efforts with its allies to “maximize pressure on North Korea by all available means.”
But this language was dropped from this year’s edition, drawn up after diplomats had “taken comprehensively into account the latest developments surrounding North Korea,” according to chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.
“There have been major developments in the situation surrounding North Korea in light of events such as the US-North Korea summits in June last year and February,” Suga told reporters.
Abe, seen as a foreign policy hawk, has also softened his rhetoric toward North Korea, frequently offering to meet leader Kim Jong Un to negotiate the decades-old issue of Japanese civilians kidnapped by the North.
“Japan seeks to normalize its relations with North Korea by comprehensively resolving outstanding issues of concern such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues as well as settling an unfortunate past,” Suga said.
Tokyo has been one of the most hawkish of the major powers on North Korea and has been on the receiving end of some of Pyongyang’s harshest rhetoric — as well as missiles launched over its territory.
Until late 2017, North Korea repeatedly tested missiles that flew toward or over Japan, sparking warnings blared out on loudspeakers and stoking calls for a tough stance against Pyongyang.
However, Japan now finds itself battling to keep itself relevant in the fast-moving North Korea issue as Kim expands his diplomatic circle.
Kim is now preparing for talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, after multiple meetings with US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.
Abe will soon meet Trump at the White House where the issue of North Korea is bound to be on the table.