Amnesty International takes back its highest honor from Aung San Suu Kyi

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Amnesty International stripped Aung San Suu Kyi of its highest honor on Monday over the de facto Myanmar leader's "indifference" to the atrocities committed by the country's military against Rohingya Muslims.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has continued his criticism of Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi today, accusing her of trying to "defend the indefensible" by downplaying the massacre of the Rohingya people.

Amnesty said that Ms Suu Kyi and her office had "repeatedly shielded the security forces from accountability by dismissing, downplaying or denying allegations of human rights violations and by obstructing worldwide investigations into abuses".

Mahathir, the outspoken leader of Malaysia - a majority Muslim country - also appealed to Myanmar to accept Rohingya as citizens.

The organisation's Secretary General Kumi Naidoo wrote to Suu Kyi yesterday to inform her that it was revoking the honour, given to her in 2009 and awarded to her in Dublin in 2012.

Yanghee Lee, the United Nations special investigator on human rights in Myanmar, said she believed Aung San Suu Kyi was in "total denial" about accusations of violence.

The worldwide human rights group named Suu Kyi as its 2009 Ambassador of Conscience Award recipient when she was still under house arrest for her opposition to Myanmar's oppressive military junta. "Without acknowledgement of the horrific crimes against the community, it is hard to see how the government can take steps to protect them from future atrocities", Naidoo said.

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Amnesty said it believes thousands of Rohingyas were killed in Myanmar's western Rakhine province since the campaign began August 2017.

Suu Kyi was hailed globally as a freedom fighter who stood up to her country's feared military dictatorship while spending 15 years under house arrest.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who is in Singapore for the ASEAN summit, has been widely criticised for her handling of the crisis.

Although the civilian government does not have control over the military, Aung San Suu Kyi and her office have shielded the security forces from accountability by dismissing, downplaying or denying allegations of human rights violations and by obstructing worldwide investigations into abuses.

The politician and Nobel peace prize victor received the honour in 2009, when she was living under house arrest. "The state media, the civilian government that she has direct authority [over], has been very much complicit in publishing inflammatory and dehumanizing articles against the Rohingya".

The 73-year-old was stripped of her honorary Canadian citizenship over her failure to speak up for the Rohingya last month. But we had to stay true to our own values as a human rights organisation that takes injustice personally.

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