In a unanimous decision on Monday evening, Oxford City Council voted to strip the Burmese State Counsellor of the award she received in 1997 and collected personally in 2012, after 15 years under house arrest.
“It was right to give the Freedom of the City to Aung San Suu Kyi in 1997 in recognition of her long struggle for democracy and her personal links to Oxford,” the cross-party motion read.
But, according to the motion, she had not responded to the council’s letter calling on her to “do whatever she can to stop the ethnic cleansing in her country”.
— Barnaby Phillips (@BarnabyPhillips) November 27, 2017
More than 600,000 members of the largely-Muslim Rohingya ethnic group have fled to Bangladesh, after Myanmar’s military launched a campaign ostensibly aimed at eradicating Rohingya armed groups.
Those who have fled describe a campaign of killing, rape, and destruction, accounts that have been backed by human rights groups and journalists working in the region.
Aung San Suu Kyi has yet to recognise that atrocities are taking place and has not spoken out against the Burmese military.
Labour party councillor Mary Clarkson said the City of Oxford would not turn a “blind eye” to the ongoing violence in Myanmar.
“The burning of [Rohingya] villages has been independently confirmed by satellite images, and the UN has called the situation ‘a textbook example of genocide’, yet Aung San Suu Kyi has denied any ethnic cleansing and dismissed numerous claims of sexual violence against Rohingya women as ‘fake rape’.”
Oxford City Council has removed the Freedom of the City of Oxford from Aung San Suu Kyi.
The cross-party motion was unanimously supported at a special council meeting moments ago. pic.twitter.com/GXYiJIdxGI
— Oxford City Council (@OxfordCity) November 27, 2017
The council joins a growing list of institutions which have revoked honours.
Students at Aung San Suu Kyi’s alma mater, St Hugh’s College at Oxford University, removed her name from its common room, and the college took down her portrait from its entrance.
Last week, students at the London School of Economics voted to strip an honourary presidency awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi in 1992.
Prior to Oxford, the cities of Sheffield and Glasgow also stripped the Burmese leader of their Freedom of the City awards.
Organisations outside the UK have also taken steps to withdraw awards.
Canada’s largest trade union, Unifor, revoked the honourary membership it had awarded Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize winner, in 2000.