US Holocaust Museum Rescinds Prize Given To Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi

Holocaust Museum revokes award given to Myanmar leader over Rohingya ethnic cleansing

The United Nations human rights chief said yesterday that he strongly suspected that "acts of genocide" might have taken place against Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state since August. The prize is awarded to people who uphold the vision "of a world where people confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity".

For her years of struggle against the military dictatorship in Myanmar, the museum awarded Myanmar's civilian leader State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi the Elie Wiesel Award, a great honor named after the museum's founder, a respected fellow Nobel Prize victor and a Holocaust survivor.

The museum said it hoped Suu Kyi "would condemn those actions and express solidarity with the Rohingya".

Since August, more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since Myanmar began systematically targeting Rohingya armed groups.

Aung San Suu Kyi was a Nobel laureate and was only the second person to receive the Elie Weisel award (the first was Wiesel), The New York Times reported. The attacks have prompted almost 700,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. "I don't think we can draw any other conclusion from what I have seen and heard in Cox's Bazar", UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour said after speaking to newly-arrived Rohingya in Bangladesh's crowded refugee camps.

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Since Aug. 25 a year ago, over 656,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.

Meanwhile, a senior Bangladesh cabinet minister has accused Myanmar of obstructing efforts to repatriate roughly 750,000 Rohingya refugees, saying it was unlikely the displaced Muslims would ever return to their homeland.

Bill Richardson, a former governor of New Mexico and longtime friend of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, recently quit an advisory board on the Rohingya crisis, calling it a "cheerleading squad" for the government.

Myanmar's military has largely closed off the north of Rakhine state to journalists, diplomats and most aid organisations apart from brief chaperoned trips. The post that she holds, state counsellor, was created after her party's 2015 election victory, as she is constitutionally barred from becoming president.

Sara Bloomfield, director of the Holocaust Museum, explained its reasoning in an open letter to the Myanmar embassy in Washington that was published on the museum's website. Myanmar has denied citizenship to Rohingya since 1982 and excludes them from the 135 ethnic groups it officially recognizes, which effectively renders them stateless. As Elie Wiesel said, "Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim".

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