US Holocaust Museum rescinds prize to Myanmar leader

US Holocaust Museum Decides To Take Back Award To Burmese Leader Over Ethnic Cleansing Concerns

Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi is guided by US National Park Service Ranger Heath Mitchell (R) as she visits the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, in 2016.

The Holocaust museum encouraged Aung San Suu Kyi to cooperate with United Nations efforts to examine and prevent the campaign, and to grant the Rohingya citizenship and full rights, which they do not have. In 2015, as part of Myanmar's transition to democracy, she was elected state counselor, a position akin to prime minister.

"In recent years, the Museum has been closely monitoring the military's campaign against the Rohingya and your response to it", the letter reads. The prize is awarded to people who uphold the vision "of a world where people confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity".

"We had hoped that you - as someone we and many others have celebrated for your commitment to human dignity and universal human rights - would have done something to condemn and stop the military's brutal campaign and to express solidarity with the targeted Rohingya population", the museum wrote. But many Rohingya living in the crowded, unsanitary camps have said they do not want to return to Rakhine after fleeing atrocities including murder, rape and arson attacks on their homes. Myanmar has denied citizenship to Rohingya since 1982 and excludes them from the 135 ethnic groups it officially recognizes, which effectively renders them stateless.

Despite these credible accounts of human rights abuses, documents released under freedom of information laws show that the Australian defence department plans to spend nearly $400,000 on training members of the Myanma military in 2017-18. In its statement Wednesday, officials noted the museum has been focused in recent years on the military's campaign against the Rohingya, an ethnic group that is mostly Muslim. The museum has also published findings that include "mounting evidence of genocide".

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The U.N. has said that the situation bears the markings of "genocide", and several world leaders have declared it "ethnic cleansing".

The museum said Suu Kyi failed to live up to the standards it expected of the award's recipients.

In January, US diplomat Bill Richardson resigned from a Suu Kyi-appointed panel set up to ease tensions with the Rohingya, assailing her for an "absence of moral leadership". "But she has not acted with the same eloquence and alacrity to the deepening crisis in Rakhine state", The Post editorial stated.

Suu Kyi was a Mandela-like figure in Myanmar who spent years under house arrest for opposing the country's military dictatorship. "But that is no excuse for her failure to wield her substantial moral authority to attempt to halt the assaults and seek reconciliation".

Ahead of Gilmour's trip, Myanmar's army deployed additional troops to the border with Bangladesh with the apparent aim of driving about 6000 Rohingya refugees staying in no-man's land into Bangladeshi territory.

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