Myanmar authorities and citizens leapt to the defence of their leader, Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday after Amnesty International stripped her of its top award over indifference to atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims.
Suu Kyi’s international reputation as a rights icon is in pieces and Amnesty’s move is the latest in a string of rescinded accolades. Canada revoked her honorary citizenship last month and the US Holocaust Museum in March took back an award named after concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel.
Institutions that once showered Suu Kyi with titles are rapidly distancing themselves from a leader they argue is doing little in the face of alleged genocide and ethnic cleansing against its Rohingya minority.
But domestically, Suu Kyi remains popular across vast swathes of Myanmar and within her party. The party’s spokesman Myo Nyunt said he thought this was all part of a wider conspiracy. Deputy Minister for Information Aung Hla Tun said such moves would only “make the people love her more.
More than 720,000 Rohingya were driven over the border to Bangladesh in a crackdown that started in August 2017, and refugees have detailed horrific testimony of murder, rape, torture and arson. The military says it was defending itself against Rohingya militants.