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

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The U.S. Holocaust Museum has decided to rescind an award honoring Burmese leader and Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been silent on the ethnic cleansing in her country.

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 winner and a Holocaust survivor. The award is presented annually to “an internationally prominent individual whose actions have advanced the Museum’s vision of a world where people confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity.”

“It is with great regret that we are now rescinding that award,” the U.S. Holocaust Museum wrote in a related press release Tuesday. “We did not take this decision lightly.”

The Burmese military, accompanied by armed Buddhist nationalists, began systematically slaughtering Rohingya in the Rakhine state in the summer of 2017, causing hundreds of thousands to flee across the border into Bangladesh. Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to comment on the issue in public, and she has angrily rebuked those who have brought the issue up in private, The New York Times reports.

While she was once a celebrated human rights hero, some critics are now suggesting she be stripped of her Nobel Peace Prize given her role in a situation the United Nations calls  “a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.”

“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,” the museum explained.

“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormenter, never the tormented,” the museum added in its press statement, quoting Elie Wiesel.

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