Amnesty International has withdrawn its highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, from Aung San Suu Kyi, in light of the Myanmar leader’s “shameful betrayal” of the values she once stood for.
On 11 November, Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s secretary general, wrote to Suu Kyi to inform her the organisation is revoking the 2009 award.
Half way through her term in office, and eight years after her release from house arrest, Naidoo expressed the organisation’s disappointment that she had not used her political and moral authority to safeguard human rights, justice or equality in Myanmar, citing her apparent indifference to atrocities committed by the Myanmar military and increasing intolerance of freedom of expression.
“As an Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience, our expectation was that you would continue to use your moral authority to speak out against injustice wherever you saw it, not least within Myanmar itself,” Naidoo wrote.
“Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights. Amnesty International cannot justify your continued status as a recipient of the Ambassador of Conscience award and so with great sadness we are hereby withdrawing it from you.”
Since Suu Kyi became the de facto leader of Myanmar’s civilian-led government in April 2016, her administration has been seen to be actively involved in the commission or perpetuation of multiple human rights violations.
Amnesty International has repeatedly criticised the failure of Suu Kyi and her government to speak out about military atrocities against the Rohingya population in Rakhine state, who have lived for years under a system of segregation and discrimination amounting to apartheid.
During the campaign of violence unleashed against the Rohingya last year the Myanmar security forces reportedly killed thousands, raped women and girls, detained and tortured men and boys, and burned hundreds of homes and villages to the ground.
More than 720,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh. A UN report has called for senior military officials to be investigated and prosecuted for the crime of genocide.