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Oxford revokes Aung San Suu Kyi’s ‘freedom of the city’

The decision was unanimously agreed by councillors

Oxford City Council has formally voted to remove its ‘freedom of the city’ from Aung San Suu Kyi, the controversial leader of Myanmar.

In a special council meeting at Oxford Town Hall, councillors unanimously supported a cross-party motion removing the privilege from the Nobel peace prize winner.

Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the ‘freedom of the city’ in 1997, in recognition of her pro-democracy activism. But despite winning a supermajority in Myanmar’s 2015 elections, violence towards the unrecognised Rohingya minority in the country has continued under her leadership, drawing international criticism.

The proposer of the motion, Labour councillor Mary Clarkson, said: “We have taken the unprecedented step of stripping her of the city’s highest honour because of her inaction in the face of oppression of the minority Rohingya population.

“Oxford has a long tradition of being a diverse and humane city, and our reputation is tarnished by honouring those who turn a blind eye to violence. We hope that today we have added our small voice to others calling for human rights and justice for the Rohingya people.”

The move comes after the passing of a similar motion in October, which stated it was “no longer appropriate” for the politician to hold the award.

At the time the Leader of Oxford City Council, Bob Price, told Cherwell: “There is justified anger across the city and the Council that a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is the Head of State in Myanmar has not only failed to condemn the violence but has actively queried the accuracy of the evidence presented by the United Nations and the international media.

“She was awarded the Freedom – which is the City’s highest honour – for her remarkable stand against military dictatorship and the imposition of authoritarian rule in her country.

“Her failure to stand up in similar fashion to military leadership in the face of such appalling violence against an ethnic and religious minority clearly leads to the conclusion that she is no longer worthy of the honour bestowed by the City of Oxford.”

The United Nations has branded treatment of the Rohingya people “a textbook example of genocide.”

The University of Oxford said it is not reviewing its decision to award Aung San Suu Kyi an honorary degree in 2012.

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