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

Holocaust Museum revokes award given to Myanmar leader over Rohingya ethnic cleansing
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The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has rescinded an award given to Myanmar’s civilian leader, saying that she has failed to live up to its standards with her silence on the country’s ethnic cleansing crisis.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was awarded the “Elie Wiesel Award” in 2012 for resisting the country’s military dictatorship, including serving 15 years of house arrest. She was the first recipient of the award other than its namesake, the famous Holocaust survivor and fellow Peace Prize recipient.

In a letter to Aung San Suu Kyi, the museum said that she has enabled the ethnic cleansing of the country’s Rohingya Muslim population by refusing to cooperate with the United Nations and blocking journalists from reporting on the crisis.

“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.

Over the past few months, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled the country after being targeted for systematic killing by the military.

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


Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonLawmakers to roll out legislation reorganizing State cyber office New State Department cyber bureau stirs opposition Blinken tells State Department staff 'I have your back' MORE in November condemned the violence and warned that the U.S. could impose targeted sanctions on Myanmar in response.

Myanmar leaders have denied that the Rohingya people even exist, as they reportedly attempt to wipe out Rohingya history and culture. One official said in December that the Rohingya are “fake news.”

“The military’s orchestration of the crimes against Rohingya and the severity of the atrocities in recent months demand that you use your moral authority to address this situation,” the museum wrote in its letter.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been largely silent on the situation, and has been criticized by many world leaders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who wrote, “If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep,” according to The New York Times.

The museum's letter to Aun San Suu Kyi accuses her of promoting “hateful rhetoric against the Rohingya community” and urges her to take a stance on the issue with a quote from Wiesel: “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”