Edinburgh council expected to withdraw Aung San Suu Kyi’s freedom of the city

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi prepares for a lecture in Singapore on Aug. 21, 2018. Photo: State Counsellor’s Office
State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi prepares for a lecture in Singapore on Aug. 21, 2018. Photo: State Counsellor’s Office

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to be stripped of her Freedom of Edinburgh over her failure to condemn the Myanmar military’s persecution of the Rohingya, the Scotsman has reported.

Lord Provost Frank Ross, the Scottish capital’s equivalent of a mayor, wrote to Suu Kyi on behalf of the city council in Nov. 2017, asking her to use her “immeasurable moral courage and influence” to enable the United Nations to ensure the safe return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar after 700,000 were expelled to Bangladesh by military operations the previous September. The state counsellor never responded to the letter.

Ross is now leading the push to take the honor away from Suu Kyi, and the city council will consider his motion on Thursday.

Suu Kyi received the Freedom of Edinburgh in 2005, while she was under house arrest for her opposition to Myanmar’s military rulers. As Myanmar’s state counsellor and foreign minister, she does not control the military, but she has been personally responsible for banning a UN-appointed fact-finding mission from entering Myanmar to investigate allegations of rights abuses committed by security forces, and her office has dismissed allegations of military violence against women as “Fake Rape.” She has also accused two Reuters reporters who exposed a military massacre of Rohingya civilians of violating the Official Secrets Act, despite the fact that they have not been convicted of any crime.

If Ross’s campaign is successful, which it is likely to be, Suu Kyi will become the second person in 200 years to be stripped of the Freedom of Edinburgh.

Nelson Mandela, who for years was compared to Suu Kyi for his years of imprisonment while fighting for democracy, was also a recipient of the honor.

A tree planted in Edinburgh in Suu Kyi’s honor the same year she received the city’s highest award is not expected to be removed once the award is revoked. However, a portrait of the state counsellor by artist David Mach in 2006, made from thousands of postcards from Burmese political prisoners and previously hung in the city council’s main office, is said to have been put into storage by the council.

In Nov. 2017, Suu Kyi was stripped of her Freedom of Oxford, also in response to her refusal to act in the defense of the Rohingya, and in March, the US Holocaust Museum retracted its Elie Wiesel Award from her.

However, responding to demands to revoke her Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Institute has said it cannot be revoked.

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