Why Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize Won’t Be Revoked

The latest violence in Myanmar began last month when Rohingya militants attacked Myanmar military positions, in what they said was an effort to prevent further persecution by the country’s security forces.


Muslim activists in Indonesia protesting what they said was Myanmar’s persecution of its Rohingya minority, in Jakarta, the capital, on Sunday.

Adi Weda/European Pressphoto Agency

The military responded with what it has called “clearance operations.” According to human rights groups, soldiers razed hundreds of Rohingya homes in Rakhine State. As a result, thousands of Rohingya have made the treacherous journey to squalid refugee camps across the border.

Their plight has drawn increased attention — and renewed criticism — from many people around the world, including other Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

“Over the last several years, I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment,” Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani Muslim and the youngest recipient of the award, said in a Twitter post on Monday. “I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same. The world is waiting and the Rohingya Muslims are waiting.”

Last year, several Nobel laureates — including Ms. Yousafzai, Desmond Tutu and 11 other recipients — signed an open letter that “warned of the potential for genocide.”

Both the open letter and Ms. Yousafzai’s Twitter post were met online by critics of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who blamed her for the crisis and called for her prize to be revoked.


Some Rohingya crossing into Bangladesh last week in the hopes of reaching refugee camps.

Adam Dean for The New York Times

Those appeals are particularly poignant given Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s history as a political prisoner. She spent 15 years under house arrest after winning a presidential election in 1988, which the ruling junta at the time refused to honor. Under a constitutional power-sharing agreement, she was appointed state counselor after her party, the National League for Democracy, won in a landslide election in 2015. Still, under the law, she cannot become…

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