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U.S. Holocaust Museum revokes human rights award to Myanmar leader

By Ray Downs
U.S. Holocaust Museum revokes human rights award to Myanmar leader
On Wednesday, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum revoked a human rights award to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which it had given her in 2012. File Photo by Hein Htet/EPA

March 7 (UPI) -- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has rescinded a human rights award it gave to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi for failing to act on the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in her country.

The award, named after Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, was given to Suu Kyi in 2012 shortly after she was released from a 15-year house arrest for resisting the country's military dictatorship and advocating for human rights.

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But the museum said that since Suu Kyi was elected to lead Myanmar in 2016, she has allowed the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority to worsen.

"As the military's attacks against the Rohingya unfolded in 2016 and 2017, 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 said in a letter to Suu Kyi.

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Instead, the museum said Suu Kyi's government has "refused to cooperate with United Nations investigators, promulgated hateful rhetoric against the Rohingya community and denied access to and cracked down on journalists trying to uncover the scope of the crimes in Rakhine state."

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Human rights organizations around the world have condemned the attacks on the Rohingya people and in November, the U.S. government declared the situation in Myanmar an example of "ethnic cleansing."

"These abuses by some among the [Myanmar] military, security forces and local vigilantes have caused tremendous suffering and forced hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to flee their homes in [Myanmar] to seek refuge in Bangladesh," U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the time.

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Meanwhile, Suu Kyi has not mentioned the Rohingya people in public and has been accused of being indifferent to their plight.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, a longtime associate of Suu Kyi, said in January that she "has changed" after taking power.

"She's become, unfortunately, a politician afraid of the military and afraid to make the tough decisions to resolve one of the worst humanitarian crises in history," Richardson told CNN.

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