Activists petition to take back Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Prize due to controversial anti-Islam quote
|Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at a rally in Yangon in 2015. Photo: Coconuts Yangon|
March 30, 2016
Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi is a figure well admired in Indonesia, as she is to the rest of the world. Or at least she was, as a single controversial quote recently attributed to Suu Kyi has led numerous Indonesians to express outrage at the Nobel Peace Prize winner online:
“No one told me that I was to be interviewed by a Muslim.”
The statement was supposedly made by Suu Kyi after her interview with the BBC’s Mishal Husain, herself a Muslim, in 2013. Suu Kyi supposedly said it off air after Husain asked her to condemn anti-Muslims in Myanmar and the persecution of the country’s Rohingya Muslims.
It’s certainly an uncharacteristic thing for Suu Kyi to say, and it’s all the more jarring given her status as a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Several human rights activists in Indonesia created a petition on Change.org in reaction to the quote, arguing that, “It might be one racially-insensitive sentence, but that was one sentence too many, and the meaning is too much for those who love peace.”
The petition, which was created yesterday, is urging the Nobel Committee to rescind Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize. The petitioners also added that Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy, over which she presides, has also failed to take an official position on the human rights abuses experienced by hundreds of thousands of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.
At the time of writing, more than 26,000 people have signed the petition.
But did Suu Kyi actually say the controversial sentence above?
Our sister site Coconuts Yangon argued that the quote, which first appeared in British journalist Peter Popham’s new book, ‘The Lady and the Generals: Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s Struggle for Freedom’, was poorly sourced, with even the author admitting that it was taken from gossip.
Addition: As we noted before, the quote, which first appeared in British journalist Peter Popham’s new book, ‘The Lady and the Generals: Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s Struggle for Freedom’, was poorly sourced, with the author describing it as gossip.
However, he later backed it up, saying it was taken from a "reliable source". He also said the issue was more complicated than the quote revealed.