London, Nov 28: Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been stripped of the honour granting her the Freedom of the City of Oxford over her response to the repression of her countrys Rohingya Muslims.
The Oxford city council voted unanimously to permanently remove the honour given to Suu Kyi in 1997 and said it did not want to celebrate “those who turn a blind eye to violence”.
Oxford councillors had previously voted to support a cross-party motion to remove the award and made the decision official in a vote on Monday evening, the Guardian reported.
The vote comes as Myanmar’s powerful Army Chief told visiting Pope Francis there is “no religious discrimination” in Myanmar.
Councillor Mary Clarkson, who proposed the motion, said: “When Aung San Suu Kyi was given the Freedom of the City in 1997 it was because she reflected Oxford’s tolerance and internationalism.
“We celebrated her for her opposition to oppression and military rule in Myanmar. Today we have taken the unprecedented step of stripping her of the city’s highest honour because of her inaction in the face of oppression of the minority Rohingya population.”
She added that the reputation of the city was being “tarnished” by “honouring those who turn a blind eye to violence”.
In 2012, Suu Kyi was celebrated with an honorary doctorate from Oxford and held her 67th birthday party at St. Hugh’s college, where she studied politics, philosophy and economics between 1964 and 1967.
But in recent months the Nobel Peace laureate has attracted growing criticism for her response to the Rohingya humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.
In September, the governing body of St. Hugh’s decided to remove a painting of her from its main entrance, days before the start of the university term and the arrival of new students.
In October, undergraduates at St. Hugh’s voted to remove the Myanmar leader’s name from the title of their junior common room.
So far, Oxford has decided not to reconsider Suu Kyi’s honorary degree. But the university has expressed its “profound concern” over the Rohingya crisis.