MEPs condemn Aung San Suu Kyi's Myanmar comments

Written by Martin Banks on 8 September 2017 in News
News

Parliament's ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt has branded Aung San Suu Kyi a disgrace following her controversial comments about the crisis in Myanmar.

Aung San Suu Kyi | Photo credit: Press Association


Suu Kyi is under fire over her recent remarks about violence in western Myanmar that has forced more than 140,00 Rohingya refugees into neighbouring Bangladesh. 

The de-facto leader of Myanmar is under growing pressure to halt clearance operations by security forces in Rakhine state. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has warned that the operations could verge on ethnic cleansing. 

However, Suu Kyi lashed out this week at what she called "a huge iceberg of misinformation" over the crisis, "with the aim of promoting the interest of the terrorists".

Her dramatic intervention has led to calls for her to be stripped of the Nobel peace prize but Olav Njolstad, head of the Nobel Institute, said it was impossible to strip a Nobel laureate of an award once it has been bestowed. The Norwegian Nobel committee says only the work which led to the awarding of the prize was taken into account.

Suu Kyi was awarded the prize in 1991, while under house arrest at the hands of Myanmar's military junta, from which she was released in 2010.

Suu Kyi is also a past winner of Parliament's annual Sakharov prize, which she received in 2013, 23 years after it was awarded. The then-President Martin Schulz said, "This is a great moment, a moment for which an entire generation in your country but also here in Europe have been waiting for."

Schulz called Suu Kyi, who appeared in Strasbourg to collect the prize, a "great symbol of freedom and democracy". 

"Despite how long it takes, the people who show strength to fight for democracy will prevail in the end," he said.

Thousands of people have also signed an online petition calling for the Nobel committee to revoke Aung San Suu Kyi 's peace prize over the Myanmar government's treatment of its Rohingya Muslims.

On Thursday, a Change.Org petition calling for Suu Kyi to be stripped of her Nobel prize had so far gathered 365,000 signatures, reflecting growing outrage over a massive security sweep in Rakhine state by Myanmar forces after a series of deadly ambushes by Rohingya militants. 

"The de facto ruler of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi has done virtually nothing to stop this crime against humanity in her country," the petition says.

On Thursday, ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt told this website, "We had expected more from Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi."

The Belgian deputy went on, "It is outrageous that she does not act and does not even speak out against the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar."

The MEP branded her "a disgrace."

UK ECR group member Amjad Bashir, who led a report through Parliament earlier this year on statelessness and the situation of the Rohingya people, said, "Since the Rohingya were denied statehood by Myanmar, their rights have been curtailed. Their children couldn't seek an education, they couldn't get work, and they were consigned to live in camps. 

"Now over 100,000 people have had to flee the violence. Children have been beheaded, women raped and villages burnt. What is happening is nothing short of ethnic cleansing, all because the Rohingya people have a different ethnicity and hold a different faith.

"My colleagues and I are working on a cross-party resolution to condemn what is happening and hold Myanmar to account."

 

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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