Who is she?
Ann Sang Suu kyi is the leader of the National League for Democracy, the current ruling party of Myannmar. Although she is the leader of this party she didn't become the president because of a clause in their constitution prohibiting her from her assuming this role due to her late husband and children being foreign citiziens. Instead, she became the newly created role, state councellor, a role similair to president (the current president of Myannmar is Win Myint). She is a de facto president. De facto, according to google means 'existing or holding a specified position in fact but not necessarily by legal right'. Basically what this means is that although she is not technically president, she might as well be because she is as powerfull if not more so then the president. The important thing is that it means that if she wanted to solve something she could and she should change it because it is her responsibility to help the country as she is basically in charge of it.
She has become a target of criticism after she has failed to react and has barely talked of the persecution of the Rohingyan people in Myannmar. Because of her inaction, many have campaigned to take away her Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, according to the telegraph' An online petition signed by more than 386,000 people on Change.org is calling for Suu Kyi to be stripped of her Peace Prize'. So should she be stripped of her prize, or should she be allowed to keep it?
Why did she get the Nobel peace prize?
According to the nobelprize.org, she was awarded it ‘for her non-violent struggle for human rights and democracy’. ‘Following studies abroad, she returned home in 1988. From then on, she led the opposition to the military junta that had ruled Burma since 1962’, ‘she opposed all use of violence and called on the military leaders to hand over power to a civilian government. The aim was to establish a democratic society in which the country's ethnic groups could cooperate in harmony.’ In the 1990 election, her party (the NLD) won. However, ‘the generals prevented the legislative assembly from convening.’ Instead they continued to arrest members of the opposition and refused to release Suu Kyi from house arrest. She remained under house arrest for almost 15 years until she was released in November 2010. Once released, she continued her political career and was instrumental in the rapid democratization (making her country more democratic) of Myanmar.
So, what she did back then was a wonderful thing, and I don’t think many people would disagree with me, she fought to make her country more democratic and fairer, bettering the lives of everyone in it. She kept trying to achieve this even when she was placed under house arrest for a near total of fifteen years, something that must have taken a lot of bravery and an unwavering commitment to doing what was right, despite the consequences. Because of this I definitely think that what she did in the past definitely made her deserve her Nobel peace prize in 1991. If she has done all of this amazing stuff, what are people so bothered about?
Why do people want her prize taken away?
It’s because of the topic we are studying in BNC right now, the Rohingya refugee crisis. According to the BBC, ‘more than half a million have fled persecution in northern Rakhine state since August 2017. The government sees the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship. Many of those who have fled describe troops and Rakhine Buddhist mobs burning their villages and attacking civilians. But Myanmar's military says it is fighting Rohingya militants, and denies ever targeting civilians.’. It may be true that there have been Rohingya groups that have targeted and killed people too, but only in retaliation to the hundreds of thousands of them being murdered or forced to flee their country. I just fail to believe, with the sheer number of Rohingya people fleeing Myanmar and with a senior UN official saying that the new military offensive was a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, that the people being forced to flee as well as those already killed are all ‘militants’, which is what the military stand by. It looks to me that innocent people are being targeted, just because of their ethnicity.
While all this persecution is going on Ann San Suu Kyi is failing to take any action, barely addressing the problem at all, in fact, she seems to be trying to make the problem out to be less serious, as is clear when she spoke to Singapore’s Channel Newsasia, saying “I’m not saying there are no difficulties. But it helps if people recognise the difficulty and are more focused on resolving these difficulties rather than exaggerating them so that everything seems worse than it really is.” She tries her best to avoid questions about it and when forced she just responds that the military are acting "rule of law". In an interview with the BBC, she did finally acknowledge a problem but saying “I don't think there is ethnic cleansing going on. I think ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening,". So, she has acknowledged a problem but she has made no steps to stop this persecution at all. I think that she is not doing the right thing, she should be helping these Rohingya people, instead of leaving them to be killed or forced to flee.
What she has done in the past was amazing and, in my opinion, totally deserving of the Nobel peace prize, and what she is doing now, not helping the Rohingya people when she is the leader of Myanmar and so the person who should do so is terrible, but does this mean her peace prize should be revoked or not?
Reasons for her peace prize getting revoked:
- She is not standing by what she stood by when she got her Nobel prize: She got her prize for ‘her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.’ Yet nowadays, the Rohingya people have had several of their human rights taken away from them like ‘Article 5: Right to liberty and security’, ‘Article 3: Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment’ and even their right to education (according to the guardian, ‘Stringent restrictions have been placed on Rohingya people’s freedom of movement, access to medical assistance, education and other basic services.’). They have even been stopped from voting in general elections. Also according to the guardian, ‘more than one million members of the Rohingya Muslim minority, a persecuted ethnic group from Western Myanmar, have been rendered stateless and are ineligible to vote.’ This is incredibly hypocritical of Ann Sang Suu Kyi. After all, the two things that she campaigned for: democracy and human rights are being taken away from the Rohingya people.
- She doesn’t deserve the prize anymore?: she is not stopping the Rohingya people from being persecuted, under her rule, hundreds of thousands are being forced to flee, she is not the kind and brave person she used to be, she is allowing these people to suffer, is that something someone really deserving of a peace prize would do?
Reasons against her peace prize being revoked:
- She earned it in the first place- what she did to earn the peace prize in the first place was brave and really made a positive impact on Myanmar and all its inhabitants and for their human rights, she may be not acting amazingly now, but she went through many years of house arrest and did many selfless acts to be awarded that prize, why should that recognition be taken away from her?
- Would her speaking out make any difference?- According to the guardian ‘Some argue that Aung San Suu Kyi fears an unpredictable military. Despite her position as state counsellor, the military has retained significant political power, with an allocated 25% of seats in parliament.’ It’s true, although the military have far less power then they used to (thanks to Ann Sang Suu Kyi’s campaigns to make Myanmar a democratic society), they still hold a lot of sway in the government and still have significant power. If Ann sang Suu Kyi did speak out there is a possibility that the military could refuse to stop killing the Rohingya people or just seize control of the government, possibly making the situation worse.
- Does the prize really make any difference? - If her prize was taken away what difference would it really make? - suddenly force Kyi into action? I doubt it. If she has done nothing to stop the Rohingya’s persecution for this long and damaged her reputation this far, I doubt taking away her peace prize would benefit the Rohingya at all.
So, there are many reasons for and against, the situation in Myanmar is far more complicated and confusing then I could explain, especially in a single post, but those are the main reasons for and against. So what do other people think?
In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Olav Njolstad, head of the Nobel Institute said, “Neither Alfred Nobel's will, nor the statutes of the Nobel Foundation provide for the possibility that a Nobel Prize — whether for physics, chemistry, medicine, literature or peace — can be revoked,” Njolstad said. “Only the efforts made by a laureate before the attribution of a prize are evaluated by the Nobel committee.”. This means, that the Nobel Institute is extremely unlikely to revoke Kyi’s award.
However, although the Nobel Institute has not taken away her award, according to the telegraph, she has been stripped of her ‘prestigious Freedom of Oxford award amid allegations Myanmar has been carrying out ethnic cleansing.’
So, what’s my opinion?
I agree with the Nobel Institute, that her peace prize should not be revoked. I do think that her inaction to stop the persecution of the Rohingya people is shocking and terrible. I think that what she has done, or rather what she has failed to do recently is extremely hypocritical: she campaigned for human rights and democracy, yet she is allowing the Rohingya people’s rights to be abused and have not allowed them to vote in elections. However, I don’t believe her prize should be taken away for a few reasons. Firstly, I think it should be the Nobel Institute’s decision, they were the ones who awarded it to her in the first place, so they should be the only ones who could take it away, they are the ones who decide what their prize means and stands for. She was rightly given the recognition she deserved for her role in campaigning for human rights and democracy. I do not think the prize matters because, as a result of her actions, people will not care for her Nobel prize, they will not see her or think of her as the Nobel peace prize recipient who did amazing things for human rights, they will think of her as the person who is doing nothing to stop the persecution of hundreds of thousands of people. It’s her reputation on the line. It’s her decision how she acts and so what people remember her for, it’s her decision what her reputation is and if she still acts like the Nobel peace prize recipient she was in 1991. Taking away her peace prize will do nothing, it will not help the Rohingya people. The only thing that it would achieve is disgracing her further and that is not what is needed. What is needed is action to help these poor people, taking away a fancy prize will never do that.
This was my opinion but, if u want to I would be really interested to know your opinions whether you agree or disagree with me. So, what do you think and why?- should Ann Sang Suu Kyi’s prize be revoked or should she keep it?