Canada strips Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi of honorary citizenship

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The Canadian parliament has unanimously voted to strip Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary citizenship over her handling of the Rohingya crisis. The vote on September 27 came a week after Canadian MPs approved a motion recognising the crimes committed against Myanmar’s Muslim minority of Rohingyas as genocide.

Aung San Suu Kyi received the honour from Ottawa in 2007, when she was a democracy advocate under long house arrest. But the Myanmar leader has been under fire for her failure to condemn the military campaign that has driven more than 700,000 Rohingya into neighbouring Bangladesh in what the UN human rights chief called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Rights organisations have accused Myanmar military of committing extrajudicial killings, gang rape and arson during their bloody campaign launched in August last year after army posts came under attack from Rohingya fighters.

Canadian parliament’s decision to revoke the symbolic honour was due to a “persistent refusal to denounce the Rohingya genocide”, said Adam Austen, spokesman for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“We will continue to support the Rohingya by providing humanitarian assistance, imposing sanctions against Myanmar’s generals and demanding that those responsible be held accountable before a competent international body,” said Austen.

Lawmaker Gabriel Ste Marie, who proposed the motion, told reporters he thought the vote was “a great symbol.”

Member of Parliament Salma Zahid called Aung San Suu Kyi’s “unwillingness to take any moral leadership… inexcusable, and deeply disappointing.”

Only five other individuals have ever been given honorary citizenship in Canada, namely the Dalai Lama, Aga Khan, Raoul Wallenberg, Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela.

Other organisations decided similarly in the recent past: Suu Kyi has been stripped of the Freedom of Oxford award over her “inaction” in the Rohingya crisis last year, and she also lost the Freedom of Edinburgh award for the same reason earlier this year. Those awards are an honour bestowed by a municipality in the UK upon a valued member of the community or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary. 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Canadian parliament has unanimously voted to strip Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary citizenship over her handling of the Rohingya crisis. The vote on September 27 came a week after Canadian MPs approved a motion recognising the crimes committed against Myanmar’s Muslim minority of Rohingyas as genocide.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Canadian parliament has unanimously voted to strip Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary citizenship over her handling of the Rohingya crisis. The vote on September 27 came a week after Canadian MPs approved a motion recognising the crimes committed against Myanmar’s Muslim minority of Rohingyas as genocide.

Aung San Suu Kyi received the honour from Ottawa in 2007, when she was a democracy advocate under long house arrest. But the Myanmar leader has been under fire for her failure to condemn the military campaign that has driven more than 700,000 Rohingya into neighbouring Bangladesh in what the UN human rights chief called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Rights organisations have accused Myanmar military of committing extrajudicial killings, gang rape and arson during their bloody campaign launched in August last year after army posts came under attack from Rohingya fighters.

Canadian parliament’s decision to revoke the symbolic honour was due to a “persistent refusal to denounce the Rohingya genocide”, said Adam Austen, spokesman for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“We will continue to support the Rohingya by providing humanitarian assistance, imposing sanctions against Myanmar’s generals and demanding that those responsible be held accountable before a competent international body,” said Austen.

Lawmaker Gabriel Ste Marie, who proposed the motion, told reporters he thought the vote was “a great symbol.”

Member of Parliament Salma Zahid called Aung San Suu Kyi’s “unwillingness to take any moral leadership… inexcusable, and deeply disappointing.”

Only five other individuals have ever been given honorary citizenship in Canada, namely the Dalai Lama, Aga Khan, Raoul Wallenberg, Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela.

Other organisations decided similarly in the recent past: Suu Kyi has been stripped of the Freedom of Oxford award over her “inaction” in the Rohingya crisis last year, and she also lost the Freedom of Edinburgh award for the same reason earlier this year. Those awards are an honour bestowed by a municipality in the UK upon a valued member of the community or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary. 

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