Aung San Suu Kyi is set to be stripped of her Freedom of Edinburgh award for her refusal to condemn the violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar.
This will be the seventh honour that the former Nobel peace prize winner has been stripped of over the past year, with Edinburgh following the example of Oxford, Glasgow and Newcastle which also revoked Suu Kyi’s Freedom of the City awards.
Suu Kyi was given the award in 2005 to honour her role in championing peace and democracy in Burma, where she was living under house arrest. At the time the Lord Provost of Edinburgh compared Suu Kyi to Nelson Mandela, describing her as “a symbol of peaceful resistance in the face of oppression. By honouring her Edinburgh citizens will be publicly supporting her tireless work for democracy and human rights.”
Suu Kyi has repeatedly refused to speak out against violence committed by the military against the Rohingya in Rahkine state, which saw more than 700,000 people flee over the border to Bangladesh. The crackdown, which began in August last years, saw villages razed to the ground, tens of thousands killed and women assaulted and raped at the hands of the military. The United Nations have said the violence amounted to “ethnic cleansing”.
The past year has seen Suu Kyi’s international reputation as a beacon of hope tarnished by what many see as her complicity or apathy towards the crimes committed in Rahkine. She has repeatedly refused to call the Rohingya by their name- which is seen as an acceptance of their belonging in Myanmar- and in a speech in Singapore yesterday, she described them simply as the “displaced persons from northern Rakhine.”
This will only be the second time in 200 years that Edinburgh has revoked a freedom of the city award, following Charles Parnell in 1890, an Irish nationalist who fell into disrepute for an affair.