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YANGON: Amnesty International has withdrawn its most prestigious human rights prize from Aung San Suu Kyi, accusing the Myanmar leader of perpetuating human rights abuses by not speaking out about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wrote to Suu Kyi on Sunday saying the group was withdrawing the award because it was “profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defense of human rights.”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


Cambodia seizes record 3-ton haul of African ivory

This photo taken on December 13, 2018 shows Cambodian Customs and Excise Officials looking at ivory seized from a shipping container at the Phnom Penh port. (AFP)
Updated 58 min 31 sec ago
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Cambodia seizes record 3-ton haul of African ivory

  • Demand from China and Vietnam has fueled the growth of illegal wildlife trafficking via Cambodia

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia seized more than 3.2 tons of elephant tusks hidden in a storage container sent from Mozambique, a customs official said Sunday, marking the country’s largest ivory bust.
The discovery Thursday of 1,026 tusks at the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port followed a tip from the US embassy, the official said, and highlights Cambodia’s emergence as a key regional transit point for the multibillion dollar trade in illicit wildlife.
“The elephant tusks were hidden among marble in a container that was abandoned,” Sun Chhay, director of the Customs and Excise Office at the port, told AFP.
He said the ivory was sent from the southern African nation of Mozambique and arrived at the port last year.
The unidentified owner of the shipment did not arrive to pick up the cargo.
Pictures of the massive haul showed long rows of confiscated tusks spread out on the ground at the port.
Sun Chhay said he did not know whether the shipment was destined for markets in other countries.
Demand from China and Vietnam has fueled the growth of illegal wildlife trafficking via Cambodia.
Weak law enforcement and corruption attract wildlife smugglers, especially at a time when neighboring Thailand is cracking down on the banned trade.
Ivory is prized for its beauty while the market in traditional medicine has led to the smuggling of rhino horn and pangolin scales.
Cambodia has a minuscule elephant population but its emergence as a new trafficking hub has resulted in several headline-grabbing busts over the past five years.
The largest before this week occured in 2014, when Cambodian customs seized about three tons of ivory hidden in a container of beans at the southwestern port of Sihanoukville.
Last year, Cambodia also seized nearly a ton of ivory hidden in hollowed-out logs discovered inside an abandoned container, owned by a company based in Mozambique.