Earlier this month, a couple Democrats floated an excellent idea: Stripping Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Nobel laureate and (former) human-rights advocate of her congressional medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, The Hill reported.
Suu Kyi was given the award unanimously by Congress in 2008, back when she looked like the democracy darling she wanted to portray.
She was so believable in her purported desire for democracy that the United States helped secure her release from her 20-year-long political house arrest. And when she won a landslide 2015 democratic election — becoming state counselor, the country’s leader — the Obama administration provided sanctions relief for Burma, now Myanmar.
“In part because of the progress that we’ve seen over the last several months,” Obama said in September 2016, “the United States is now prepared to lift sanctions that we have imposed on Burma for quite some time.
“It is the right thing to do in order to ensure that the people of Burma see rewards from a new way of doing business and a new government.
“Congratulations on the progress that has been made,” he told Suu Kyi. “It is not complete, and I think Daw Suu is the first one to indicate that a lot of work remains to be done, but it’s on the right track.”
That no longer appears to be true, of either Myanmar or Suu Kyi.
And her fall from grace is her own fault — it’s her silence and her do-nothingness as the minority Rohingya is ethnically cleansed from the country by the hundreds of thousands. To boot, the Myanmar government has been actively blocking foreign aid to the Rohingya; the government is considering legislation that would require more oversight of international non-governmental organizations, making it incredibly hard for aid groups to help.
By the end of 2017, nearly 700,000 Rohingya had fled Myanmar to Bangladesh, where they now live in the world’s largest refugee camps.
And those were the ones who could escape to safety.
The Burmese military have been accused by Amnesty International and other human-rights groups of using land mines along the border to target the fleeing Rohingya.
Their villages are being burned to the ground, children are being beheaded, people are being burned alive, and girls are being trafficked into prostitution.
Doctors Without Borders estimates that more than 10,000 Rohingya have been killed.
All the while, Suu Kyi has done nothing.
“Whether it’s that she’s been complicit, or that she’s just been silent, what she hasn’t done is be vocal enough. So it’s been very, very disappointing, because I had a great admiration for her,” said. Rep. Ro Khanna, a liberal California Democrat, who said he is “open” to revoking her medal.
As did Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., who said: “As a Nobel Peace Prize winner, she should be speaking out much more against the atrocities that are taking place right now. I mean, she does have the bully pulpit. We’ve got to send her the message that she ought to be speaking out and trying to moderate the government and military response here.”
She’s already been stripped of the Freedom of Dublin award over her inaction toward the Rohingya, as well as the Freedom of the City of Oxford. The Holocaust Museum also rescinded its Elie Wiesel award.
We should do the same. Because it’s clear that she no longer believes, as she argued in her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, that the world should be “free of the displaced, the homeless and the hopeless.”
The United States shouldn’t honor her for going back on her word.