WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has rescinded its top award to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi because of her failure to condemn and stop military attacks on her country’s minority Rohingya Muslims, the museum said on Wednesday.
The Washington museum’s rescission of its Elie Wiesel Award to Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is the latest honor to be retracted over her silence about widespread abuses against the Rohingya.
Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy have refused to cooperate with United Nations investigators, fed hate attacks on the Rohingya and denied reporters access to areas where alleged abuses have taken place, the museum said in a letter to Suu Kyi that was posted on its website.
“It is with great regret that we are now rescinding that award. We did not take this decision likely,” it said in the letter dated March 6.
The Myanmar Embassy in Washington said it regretted that the museum had been “misled and exploited by people who failed to see the true situation” in the western state of Rakhine.
The decision to rescind the award would “have no bearing on the determination of the Myanmar people in supporting the leadership” of Suu Kyi, the embassy said in a statement dated March 7.
The government would “redouble its efforts in finding a lasting solution” for Rakhine State, it said.
The United Nations and human rights organizations have collected evidence of widespread abuses by the Myanmar military against the largely stateless Rohingya, including murder, rape and arson. The attacks have prompted nearly 700,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar denies the abuse charges and says its security forces are fighting a legitimate campaign against “terrorists” it blames for attacks on security forces.
The plight of the Rohingya has sparked outrage around the world. There have been calls for Suu Kyi to be stripped of her Nobel prize, won for her pro-democracy fight, for not speaking out to condemn the Myanmar military’s actions.
Suu Kyi is Myanmar’s state counselor and foreign minister. She has had other honors rescinded, including the freedoms of the cities of Dublin and Oxford, England. Last month, three Nobel peace laureates urged Suu Kyi and the military to end the “genocide” of Rohingya Muslims now or face prosecution.
Reporting by Ian Simpson; Additional reporting by Simon Lewis in YANGON; Editing by Dan Grebler, Robert Birsel