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31 Aug, 2018 20:51

UN’s ‘genocide’ report not good enough for Nobel Committee to strip Myanmar’s Suu Kyi of peace prize

Myanmar's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will keep the Nobel Peace Prize despite the UN blaming her country's military for mass ethnic cleansings, as it is given for past achievements, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.

On Monday, a UN report accused Myanmar's army of "killing indiscriminately, gang raping women, assaulting children and burning entire villages" during the year-long operation in the state of Rakhine. 

Thousands of Muslim Rohingya people have died at the hands of the troops, while another 700,000 were displaced, the report said, urging Myanmar commanders to be prosecuted over "genocide" under the international law.

The UN stressed that civilian authorities had little scope to control the army's actions, but added that "State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has not used her de facto position as Head of Government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events in Rakhine State."

Myanmar's government spokesman has decried the report as "false allegations" not based on actual evidence, saying that the country has "zero tolerance to any human rights violation."

Suu Kyi had received her Noble Peace Prize in 1991 while being under house arrest for her struggle against the military junta, which ruled the country back then. She became a role model in Myanmar and abroad for promoting non-violent political tactics and merging democratic and Buddhist values. The 73-year-old occupied various government positions before becoming First State Counsellor in 2016.

However, there's no risk of Suu Kyi's prize being snatched away, as this isn't allowed by the Norwegian Nobel Committee's rules, according to its secretary, Olav Njoelstad.

"It's important to remember that a Nobel Prize, whether in physics, literature or peace, is awarded for some prize-worthy effort or achievement of the past," Njoelstad said.

"Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel peace prize for her fight for democracy and freedom up until 1991, the year she was awarded the prize," he added.

Last year, the committee stated that "it's not our task to oversee or censor what a laureate does after the prize has been won. The prizewinners themselves have to safeguard their own reputations."

READ MORE: Anti-child-abuse activist & former Nobel Peace Prize nominee arrested for planning sex with 2yo

Three-times Nobel Peace Prize nominee anti-war activist David Swanson told RT that he believes that there should be a mechanism allowing the withdrawal of the prestigious award.

"When that individual [who received the Nobel Peace Prize] strays dramatically from the path of ending war, the prize is ought to be taken back. There has to have been disappointment with her [Suu Kyi] or with [former US President] Barack Obama as with many others recipients in terms of their behavior after receiving the prize," he said.

Swanson acknowledged that "there isn't any precedent" of somebody returning the prize, but added that it would be "a good step."

The activist also disagreed with the Norwegian Committee's claims that the Peace Prize is only given for past achievements, questioning the very criteria used by the panel to select the laureates.

"The prize was intended to be the funding for peace activism and they give it to wealthy, prominent, powerful people," he said.

Obama was chosen in 2009 only because the committee was "looking for a big headline," Swanson said. He also reminded how Martin Luther King Jr. said at the award ceremony that had "not yet won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize."

"Many-many times they've given the prize for someone, who didn't earn it, like former [US Secretary of State] Henry Kissinger. Or they give the prize to people, who make war and made a slight gesture towards peace in contrast to their usual approach," he said.

Swanson believes the only worthy achiever of the Peace Prize in recent years was the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was awarded in 2013 for its role in the destruction of Syrian chemical stockpile.

Even that decision was met with a mixed reaction, as some suggested the prize should've gone to President Vladimir Putin for Russia's leading role in the chemical disarmament deal and the preventing of an all-out foreign intervention into Syria.

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