Posts Tagged ‘Aung San Suu Kyi’

Myanmar: time for Aung San Suu Kyi to return (at least some of) her many human rights awards?

September 3, 2017

While receiving sharply worded emails and social media messages that the Rohingyas in Myanmar do not exist or have been ‘invented by the Saudis’, other more sober contributions put the serious question – whether with hindsight – Aung San Suu Kyi should not give back the many international awards she has received.  Aung San Suu Kyi is the recipient of at least 15 international awards (e.g. Nobel Peace Prize, Rafto, Sakharov, AI’s Ambassador of Conscience, Vaclav Havel Price for Creative Dissent). The UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence (SIC) seems especially awkward.

Almost a year ago I referred in a blog post [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/09/20/how-awards-can-get-it-wrong-four-controversial-decisions-in-one-week/] to “a serious expression of concern by an ethnic minority: Prensa Latina reported on 19 September that hundreds of Muslim students demonstrated against the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award 2016 given to Minister of State of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi by the Harvard Foundation. According to the website of the Harvard Foundation recent prizes of that foundation were given to education activist Malala Yousafzai, Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon. According to the Mizzima news agency, the young people consider that Aung San Suu Kyi does nothing to handle the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority. According to the local press, Suu Kyi herself considered, while receiving the prize, that in her country there is still a long way to go before saying that the people are free and safe.

Now Reuters reports that about 120,000 people – mostly displaced and stateless Rohingya Muslims – in Rakhine camps are not receiving food supplies or healthcare after contractors for the World Food Program suspended operations following the government accusations. Staff have been too afraid to show up for work. “As a result of the disruption of activities in central Rakhine state, many people are not receiving their normal food assistance and primary healthcare services have been severe disrupted,” said Pierre Peron, a spokesman for the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs.

Suu Kyi’s government refuses to allow UN investigators and the media access to parts of Rakhine where rights monitors fear a campaign of ethnic cleansing is underway.

Suu Kyi was idolised while spending 15 years as a prisoner of Myanmar’s army generals. Now she refuses to speak up for 1.1 million stateless and long persecuted Rohingya. She may not control her country’s armed forces but, since taking high office, Suu Kyi has refused to acknowledge the plight of the Rohingya in any meaningful way. She deflects questions about the persecution of Rohingya, saying only the “rule of law” must apply in Rakhine. She also dismisses the independent UN inquiry as “not suitable for the situation of our country.”

……Some human rights activists who campaigned for years for Suu Kyi’s release when she was a political prisoner now feel a deep sense of betrayal from the woman they formerly saw as a heroine. Perhaps it is time for her to hand back her Noble Peace Prize. (The story The ‘human catastrophe’ that betrays Suu Kyi’s Nobel prize first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.)

Front line Defenders reported on 2 August that human rights defender Ko Swe Win was prevented from travelling and detained in connection with defamation charges on 30 July 2017,  at Yangon International Airport as he was trying to fly  to Bangkok. He was reportedly taken into police custody in relation to a defamation case brought by a follower of extremist Buddhist monk U Wirathu, who told the police he believed Ko Swe Win was attempting to flee the country. Despite the defamation lawsuit filed against him, no travel restrictions were issued against Ko Swe Win. The human rights defender was released on bail on 31 July 2017. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/11/23/burma-continued-prosecution-of-human-rights-defenders-and-peaceful-demonstrators/

Sources:

http://sea-globe.com/myanmar-war-on-terror/

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/ko-swe-win

Arakan and traces of blood on Nobel Prize – Saadet Oruç – Daily Sabah

http://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/4896812/the-human-catastrophe-that-betrays-suu-kyis-nobel-prize/?cs=4141

10 women human rights defenders in cartoon images

March 23, 2017

10 December is obviously International Human Rights Day, but there are several countries that have a different or additional Human Rights Day of their own. One of them is South Africa where 21 March is historically linked with 21 March 1960 and the events of Sharpeville (on that day 69 people died and 180 were wounded when police fired on a peaceful crowd that had gathered in protest against the Pass laws – https://www.parliament.gov.za/project-event-details/2)

Boipelo Mokgothu in Traveller24 used the occasion on 20 March 2017 to publish  a compilation of the 10 most inspirational women from historical figures till today:

Read the rest of this entry »

How awards can get it wrong: four controversial decisions in one week!

September 20, 2016

This blog regularly covers human rights awards [e.g. https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/human-rights-awards/]. Most of the awards end up with the right people or – if needed – decisions get corrected [e.g. https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/russian-protest-artist-pavlensky-stripped-of-havel-prize-over-support-for-violent-partisans/]. This week four controversial cases have come to the fore although they ‘fortunately’ concern more political kind of awards given to more political kind of people. Still instructive for those who consider giving awards: Read the rest of this entry »

Today was OXI Day in Greece: worth an award or two

October 29, 2015

The short video tells why Greece celebrates every 28 October “Oxi Day“. At 3:00 am on October 28, 1940, a representative of the Axis Forces arrived at the Greek Prime Minister’s residence and demanded Greece’s surrender. The Prime Minister replied with a single word: Oxi [No].

Within hours, the Axis forces descended on Greece, expecting it to quickly fall. But the Greek resistance forced Hitler to change his plans. News of Greece’s victory flooded the radio airwaves and covered the front pages of newspapers and magazines around the globe – no one expected such a small nation to derail the seemingly unstoppable Axis forces. Greece forced Hitler to change his timeline and delaying the attack on Russia. Greece’s actions inspired Winston Churchill to say “If there had not been the virtue and courage of the Greeks, we do not know which the outcome of World War II would have been.”

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Burma: human rights defenders arrested again for expressing political opinions

May 13, 2014

Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, must sometimes be doubting her power: on 5 May 2014, human rights defender Mr Ko Htin Kyaw was arrested by the police for distributing pamphlets in Yangon, Burma. On 9 May 2014, two of his colleagues were also arrested when they attended the trial against him. Ko Htin Kyaw is director of the Movement for Democracy Current Force (MDCF), a community-based organisation working to promote development and democracy. Read the rest of this entry »

BURMA: continued prosecution of human rights defenders and peaceful demonstrators

November 23, 2013

There was much optimism about developments in Myanmar/Burma after the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, and the government’s announcement of a process of democratization. But reports from the Asian Human Rights Commission, Front Line Defenders and other NGOs give ground for pessimism. In the words of the AHRC (on 24 September):  “If the government of Myanmar is as serious as it says that it is about political reform, about the release of political prisoners, and about other measures to put its authoritarian legacy behind it, then it needs to begin by bringing to a halt the wanton prosecution of human rights defenders l…It needs to repeal [repressive] laws and above all, it needs to do much more to alter systematically the practices and mentalities of administrators, police officers and other officials accustomed to shutting down any public activity not directly under their control or given their approval. Democratic life is about people acting and talking according to ideas that government officials sometimes will not like. If on every occasion they see or hear something they do not like the authorities in Myanmar respond to it with prosecution, then democratic life in the country will remain a figment.” According to the protesters’ lawyer, Mr Robert San Aung, a total of 57 activists have now been imprisoned under the Peaceful Assembly Law. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners  and 130 activists have been brought to court under this legislation, 18 of whom remain in prison. Read the rest of this entry »

Burma: human rights defender Ms Naw Ohn Hla sentenced to two years in prison with hard labour

September 5, 2013

On 29 August 2013, human rights defender Ms Naw Ohn Hla was found guilty of disturbing public tranquillity under Section 505(b) of the Burmese Penal Code and sentenced to two years in prison with hard labour. She had been arrested on 13 August 2013 during a peaceful protest. Read the rest of this entry »

Burma/Myanmar to have first International Human Rights Film Festival in June

June 6, 2013

Aung San Suu Kyi P

(Aung San Suu Kyi  with Human Rights Logo)

Now rapidly opening up Burma/Myanmar is going to have for the first time an international film festival dedicated to human rights. It will feature Read the rest of this entry »

Burma frees 450 prisoners before Obama’s visit but what about the real HRDs?

November 15, 2012

Official photographic portrait of US President...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human rights campaigners say no dissidents are among prisoners to be released in ‘goodwill gesture’ reports Jason Burke in Delhi (guardian.co.uk, Thursday 15 November 2012)

The Guardian and many other newspapers have announced that the Burmese authorities have freed more than 450 detainees in a goodwill gesture before a historic visit by the US president Obama but local and international human rights campaigners said the list of released prisoners did not include any political dissidents.

Announcing the amnesty – the latest in a series that have coincided with high-profile visits of foreign dignitaries or trips by senior Burmese leaders overseas – state media said late on Wednesday that its aim was “to help promote goodwill and the bilateral relationship”. A home ministry official told Reuters that a certain number of the remaining 300 political prisoners would be released. However Bo Kyi, of the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), said no prisoners of conscience had been freed so far. “All are common criminals or foreign nationals …… We know of no political prisoners among the 452 freed today,” he said.

However the Wall Street Journal (15 Nov)  just reported that U Myint Aye, a 61-year-old human rights activists and one of the most high-profile dissidents currently detained, held at Loikaw, was included.

No word on Aung Naing either (see my post of 24 September this year).

Let’s wait and see whether President Obama is willing to press for a more substantive release.

Amnesty International’s big meeting started Sunday 14 August

August 16, 2011

On Sunday 14 August Amnesty International started its big meeting (ICM) in Noordwijkerhout in the Netherlands. AI is ‘celebrating’ its 50th anniversary and the list of interveners on the first day illustrates the continued importance of this unique, large, membership-based human rights movement. In addition to the new Secretarty-General Salil Shetty, there were messages from Aung San Suu Kyi (by video), Shirin Ebadi, and Kasha Nabagesera, the 2011 Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award. For a short video summary of the first day go to: http://amnestyicm.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/highlights-from-day-one/