The United States Holocaust Memorial museum has rescinded a human rights award from Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, saying she failed to acknowledge or fight against what the U.S. has declared an ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar military.
In a letter to Suu Kyi, the organization cited the lack of cooperation by the National League for Democracy — which is led by Suu Kyi — as the United Nations attempted to investigate the crisis. The museum said the league also promoted “hateful rhetoric” against the Rohingya and blocked journalists from covering the violence against the ethnic group.
Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. In the past she worked against military dictatorship and advocated for human rights. She was given the Holocaust Museum’s Elie Wiesel Award in 2012, but the group said her current inaction forced it to rescind the award.
The statement, dated Tuesday, said representatives visited Myanmar and found “mounting evidence of genocide.” The United Nations has also stated the Myanmar military’s actions against the Rohingya have “the hallmarks of a genocide.” The U.N. defines genocide as acts intended to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.
The Rohingya live in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and face discrimination from the Buddhist majority in the country. Since last August, the Myanmar military has carried out a campaign of violence that includes raping Rohingya women and killing thousands of people, though the exact number is difficult to determine because of limited access to the region. Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh.
The museum gave recommendations to Suu Kyi and encouraged her to help aid workers access the region and grant the Rohingya full citizenship rights.
“Finally, we urge you to condemn the hateful, dehumanizing language directed toward the Rohingya,” the letter states. “As a living memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, the Museum stands in solidarity with victims of genocide and atrocity crimes and attempts to do for victims today what was not done for the Jews of Europe.”