Aung San Suu Kyi stripped of 'Freedom of Oxford'

11:55 am on 4 October 2017

Oxford has withdrawn an honour granting Aung San Suu Kyi the freedom of the UK city because of her response to the Rohingya crisis.

The de facto leader of Myanmar was granted the 'Freedom of Oxford' in 1997 for her "long struggle for democracy".

Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a national address in Naypyidaw. She said she "feels deeply" for the suffering of "all people" caught up in conflict.

Aung San Suu Kyi has faced criticism for failing to address allegations of ethnic cleansing Photo: YE AUNG THU / AFP

But a motion to Oxford City Council said it was "no longer appropriate" for her to hold it.

More than half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh following recent violence.

The trouble erupted on 25 August when Rohingya militants attacked security posts, triggering a military crackdown.

Rohingya Muslims who fled from ongoing military operations in Myanmar’s Rakhine state wait for a boat to a makeshift camp on hills at Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

Rohingya Muslims who fled from ongoing military operations in Myanmar's Rakhine state wait for a boat to a makeshift camp on hills at Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: AFP / ZAKIR HOSSAIN CHOWDHURY / ANADOLU AGENCY

Ms Suu Kyi spent years under house arrest in Rangoon as a campaigner for democracy while Myanmar (formerly Burma) was ruled by a military dictatorship.

She became a worldwide figurehead for freedom before leading her National League for Democracy party to victory in open elections in November 2015.

But her failure to denounce the military or address allegations of ethnic cleansing has been criticised by world leaders and groups like Amnesty International.

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price supported the motion to remove her honour and confirmed it was an "unprecedented step" for the local authority.

People are "absolutely appalled" by the situation in Myanmar, he said, adding it was "extraordinary" she had not spoken out about reported atrocities in the country.

Ms Suu Kyi read philosophy, politics and economics at St Hugh's College, Oxford from 1964 to 1967. Last week it emerged the college had removed a portrait of Ms Suu Kyi from display.

Other organisations are now reconsidering honours given to Ms Suu Kyi, the BBC reported.

- BBC

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs