"Our reputation is tarnished by honoring those who turn a blind eye to violence," the Oxford City Council said
Suu Kyi's handling of the Rohingya crisis has been roundly criticized by the West
Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been stripped of an award by the British city of Oxford, where she went to university, for her handling of the Rohingya crisis.
The Oxford City Council voted unanimously to take the “unprecedented” step of revoking the city’s highest honor, the Freedom of the City of Oxford, that was bestowed upon her in 1997. She graduated from Oxford University’s St. Hugh’s College in 1967.
Suu Kyi has been roundly criticized in the international community for failing to condemn the alleged ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in the country’s Rakhine State.
More than 620,000 Rohingya have fled violence in the region since August 25, crossing the Bangladesh border with stories of executions, rape and torture.
The United States, United Kingdom and United Nations have all declared that ethnic cleansing has taken place. Myanmar’s military says it was targeting terrorists who carried out a series of deadly attacks on security forces.
Suu Kyi will meet with Pope Francis Tuesday in the capital of Naypyidaw, where it’s likely the pair will discuss the issue. Francis’ visit is the first by a Pope to Myanmar, once known as Burma.
She leads the country in a power-sharing agreement with the military but she has little has little if any control over the country’s armed forces. However, international human rights advocates hoped the Nobel Laureate would use her moral authority to speak out on behalf of the Rohingya.
Suu Kyi won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for being “an outstanding example of the power of the powerless” during her nonviolent protest against the military junta that ruled the country for years.
Oxford announced last month that it would strip Suu Kyi of its award, and on Monday put forward the recommendation at a council meeting.
“Aung San Suu Kyi has denied any ethnic cleansing and dismissed numerous claims of sexual violence against Rohingya women as ‘fake rape,’” Councilor Mary Clarkson said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“Oxford has a long tradition of being a diverse and humane city, and our reputation is tarnished by honoring those who turn a blind eye to violence.”
Earlier in November, Musician Bob Geldof returned his Freedom of the City of Dublin award, which Suu Kyi also has, in protest over her handling of the Rohingya crisis.
“It turned out that she’s a killer, and I don’t want to be on the same list as what the UN described as a genocide,” Geldof said.
A Change.org petition calling for the Nobel Peace Prize committee to strip Suu Kyi of her award has garnered more than 430,000 signatures.
CNN’s Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed to this report.