De facto leader of Burma/Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, has had the “Elie Wiesel Award” officially revoked on Wednesday. She was awarded this in 2012, “for her courageous leadership and great personal sacrifice in resisting tyranny and advancing the freedom and dignity of the Burmese people.” She was known throughout the country for holding out under extremely strenuous circumstances, particularly during a long period of house arrest. But she always stood for the people, and she would go on to win a Nobel Peace Prize, among many other awards.
She eventually came into power, and many had high hopes. However, one problem quickly became apparent: she is the de facto leader, but the military is still very much in charge of itself. Most of the criticism regarding Burma involves the military or police in some way, so this makes her sort of powerless in that regard. Still, only “sort of” powerless, as she is Myanmar’s State Counselor and has a voice that is widely respected and heard throughout the world.
When the violence against the Rohingya began again, she remained unusually silent on the matter. Despite the reports coming from multiple sources, including the UN, Doctors Without Borders, and many other missionary and aid organizations throughout Rakhine and Bangladesh, she remained uncharacteristically quiet. Her decision not to use her significant influence to even condemn the actions of Burma’s military has garnered harsh, worldwide criticism. This is one of many honors/awards that have been stripped to symbolize peoples’ distaste for her lack of action.
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the honor is described as such:
The Elie Wiesel Award recognizes internationally prominent individuals whose actions have advanced the Museum’s vision of a world where people confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Established in 2011 as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Award and renamed for inaugural recipient Elie Wiesel, it is the Museum’s highest honor.”
Other honorees include Elie Wiesel himself, Władysław Bartoszewski (and the Veterans of World War II), Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, Judge Thomas Buergenthal and Benjamin Ferencz, US Representative John Lewis (D-GA) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The museum stays current with events that could possibly devolve into genocide, as well as continuing to raise awareness about countries that are suffering in such ways already.
Estimates by local news agencies say that approximately 90% of the Rohingya have had to flee their homes in Rakhine State. Approximately 700,000 people have been displaced and live in the border refugee camps in Bangladesh, where they exist in barely livable conditions.
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.