The controversial leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, was stripped of her ‘Freedom of the City’ honour by Oxford Council at a meeting earlier this week.
The motion, which argued it was “no longer appropriate” for the politician to hold the award, was approved by a majority of city councillors on Monday.
Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Freedom of the City in 1997, in recognition of her pro-democracy activism. But despite winning a supermajority in Myanmar’s 2015 elections, violence towards the unrecognised Rohingya minority in the country has contin-ued under her leadership, drawing international criticism.
“The ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in Myanmar has shocked the world,” the Leader of Oxford City Council, Bob Price, told Cherwell.
“There is justied anger across the city and the Council that a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is the Head of State in Myanmar has not only failed to condemn the violence but has actively queried the accuracy of the evidence presented by the United Nations and the international media.
“She was awarded the Freedom – which is the City’s highest honour – for her remarkable stand against military dictatorship and the imposition of authoritarian rule in her country.
“Her failure to stand up in similar fashion to military leadership in the face of such appalling violence against an ethnic and religious minority clearly leads to the conclusion that she is no longer worthy of the honour bestowed by the City of Oxford.”
This comes after news last week that St Hugh’s College has taken down its portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi, who studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) there in the 1960s. The Swan, a St Hugh’s blog, reported that the painting had been replaced by Yoshihiro Takada’s ‘Morning Glory’.
A spokesperson for St Hugh’s told Cherwell: “The College shares the grave international concerns about the persistent ethnic violence towards, and treatment of, the Rohingya community.
“We earnestly hope that Aung San Suu Kyi will do everything within her power to stop the violence and address the underlying issues as a matter of urgency.”
The University said it is not reviewing its decision to award the Myanmar leader an honorary degree in 2012.