EU parliament removes Suu Kyi from ‘rights prize community’

Updated 11 Sep 2020

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The EU assembly awar­d­ed the former democracy campaigner its top human rights prize in 1990, a year before she received the Nobel Peace Prize, but she will no longer take part in events for laureates. — AFP/File
The EU assembly awar­d­ed the former democracy campaigner its top human rights prize in 1990, a year before she received the Nobel Peace Prize, but she will no longer take part in events for laureates. — AFP/File

BRUSSELS: The Euro­pean Parliament on Thurs­day removed Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from the “Sakharov Prize community” because of her “acceptance” of state crimes against the Rohingya community.

The EU assembly awar­d­ed the former democracy campaigner its top human rights prize in 1990, a year before she received the Nobel Peace Prize, but she will no longer take part in events for laureates.

A source close to the parliament said the prize had been awarded for Suu Kyi’s work before 1990 so it could not be withdrawn, but that this exclusion was the strongest sanction available to MEPs.

A statement from the speaker and the group leaders in parliament said the decision was “a response to her failure to act and her acceptance of the ongoing crimes against the Rohingya community in Myanmar”.

Myan­mar’s Muslim Rohingya minority has long been discriminated against and around 740,000 people fled to Bangladesh in 2017 to escape a military offensive.

Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner who fought to end military rule and is now the country’s most powerful civilian official, was once honoured around the world as a champion of freedom.

But she has been accused of turning a blind eye to abuses against the Rohingya. The refugees have been disenfranchised and most of the 600,000 Rohin­gya still in Myanmar have been stripped of citizenship and rights.

Suu Kyi’s loss of her Sakharov Prize privileges is largely symbolic. She is already a pariah in world capitals, especially after she defended in the International Court of Justice allegations against her country of rape, arson and mass killings.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2020