Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi tours the Nobel Peace center in Oslo on June 16, 2012. Suu Kyi on June 16 pledged to keep up her struggle for democracy as she finally delivered her Nobel Peace Prize speech, 21 years after winning the award while under house arrest.    AFP PHOTO / POOL /Cathal McNaughton        (Photo credit should read Cathal McNaughton/AFP/GettyImages)
Who is Aung San Suu Kyi?
01:41 - Source: CNN

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Aung San Suu Kyi was a democracy icon in her homeland of Myanmar

Now, she faces harsh criticism over the persecution of Rohingya Muslims

CNN  — 

For years, she was the epitome of the peaceful protester, steadfast in her devotion to democracy in her homeland of Myanmar through nonviolent means.

Aung San Suu Kyi was lauded on the global stage, awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and praised for her refusal to incite violence while under house arrest for 15 years after winning a presidential election the ruling military refused to accept.

Now, protesters around the region are torching effigies of the democracy icon. They are furious at her failure to act while Myanmar’s military lays waste to land held by the minority Rohingya Muslims, shooting civilians and sparking a mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of people who have been denied citizenship in the Buddhist-dominated country.

“These are mass killings and they’re taking place right now and Aung San Suu Kyi’s office is not only doing nothing to stop it – in some ways they’re throwing fuel on the fire,” said Matthew Smith, founder of human rights groups Fortify Rights, who was speaking from Kutupalong Refugee camp in Bangladesh, where many Rohingya have fled.

While it is the country’s military that has cracked down on the Rohingya in this latest spasm of violence, Suu Kyi is considered the country’s de facto leader. Her official post is State Counsellor and she is said to be the President’s confidante.

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