YANGON: Myanmar authorities and citizens leapt to the defence of Aung San Suu Kyi Tuesday after Amnesty International stripped her of its top award over indifference to atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims, doubling down on support for the civilian leader in the face of global ire.
Suu Kyi ‘s international reputation as a rights icon is in pieces and Amnesty’s move is the latest in a string of rescinded accolades.
Canada revoked her honorary citizenship last month and the US Holocaust Museum in March took back an award named after concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel.
Institutions that once showered Suu Kyi with titles are rapidly distancing themselves from a leader they argue is doing little in the face of alleged genocide and ethnic cleansing against its Rohingya minority.
Amnesty’s “Ambassador of Conscience Award” was bestowed in 2009 and other recipients include Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai and Ai Wei Wei.
“Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights,” Amnesty International chief Kumi Naidoo said in a letter to Suu Kyi released by the group.
“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.”
But domestically, Suu Kyi remains popular across vast swathes of Myanmar and within her party, the National League for Democracy, which won elections in 2015 ending decades of military-backed rule.