Councillor helps begin process of revoking Burmese leader’s accolade
Aung San Suu Kyi could lose her Honorary Freedom of the City of London after councillors last night voted to begin the process of revoking the accolade — a first in its history.
They cited her failure to “speak out and acknowledge the genocide that took place”, a reference to the crisis in Myanmar, which began in 2015 and has seen hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims flee persecution.
Suu Kyi, pictured, once the darling of Western politics for her long stand against her country’s military junta, has seen her reputation shredded in the wake of what a UN boss has called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Now City of London Corporation councillors have backed a motion by Munsur Ali (a councillor for Portsoken) that would remove her Honorary Freedom of the City. Though it has no practical effect, this is the highest honour the City of London can bestow and is normally reserved for heads of state or global figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, internet inventor Tim Berners-Lee and Winston Churchill.
Suu Kyi was only awarded her Honorary Freedom in 2017. At the time, the Corporation praised her “steadfast dedication to create a society where people can live in peace, security and freedom”.
Last night during the debate, councillor Jamie Ingham Clark disagreed with the motion and said the Corporation should “take the long view” and not enter into “gesture politics”.
Another councillor, Tom Sleigh, replied: “If this is gesture politics, what is giving the award in the first place?”
In fact, Suu Kyi, a 1991 Nobel Peace prize winner, has been losing honorary awards at a pace since the scale of the suffering of the Rohingya has become clearer to the West. The UN has estimated that 1,000 people have died, while at least 700,000 are thought to have fled the country.
A City of London Corporation spokesperson confirms that “the freedom applications committee will now write to Aung San Suu Kyi to inform her of the proposal to revoke the award and will consider her response before a final decision is made”.
Source: The Evening Standard
See also City AM – http://www.cityam.com/271433/city-london-corporation-votes-favour-revoking-aung-san-suu
City Matters – https://www.citymatters.london/aung-san-suu-kyi-freedom/