Social Justice

Muhammad Yunus: “Aung San Suu Kyi has become a symbol of violence"

The founder of the Grameen Bank holds fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner to account over the Myanmar government’s actions against Rohingya Muslims

Rohingya refugees wait in line for food

Aung San Suu Kyi has “degraded the value of the Nobel Peace Prize” according to fellow Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus.

Bangladesh-born economist Yunus, who won the award in 2006 for his pioneering work in microfinance that has lifted millions out of poverty, told The Big Issue that the Myanmar leader’s actions have wrecked her reputation.

He said: “[Aung San Suu Kyi] has already degraded the value of the Nobel Peace Prize by becoming a symbol of violence and atrocity in Myanmar.

“You lost all the admiration that you used to enjoy – you stood for democracy, you stood for human rights and now you have given up everything. You have gave up democracy, you given up human rights and you became a symbol of atrocity and violence, with innocent people, women and children.

“Please go back to your old self, the person that you used to be.”

Last month, Yunus joined a team of Nobel Prize winners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai, in writing an open letter to the UN urging them to intervene in the ongoing humanitarian crisis, which has forced over half a million Rohingya Muslims to flee the country.

Speaking about the letter he said: “We want to waken her up. Either you can be the incarnation of peace, as you used to be, or [you can] tell people that that was the wrong image of me, this is the real image, so then we are clear and not mistaken about who you are.

“We want to stop this violence and make sure people can go home safely.”

The most brutal thing any government can do to its own citizens

Professor Yunus also told The Big Issue: “I hope the UN Security Council will take immediate action to make sure Myanmar is forced to take back their people and give them full dignity and full citizenship. They are innocent people caught in the crazy idea of ethnic cleansing, throwing them out of the country for no fault of their own.

“They were not only born in the country but they have been there for generations. And now suddenly someone takes their citizenship away. That is the most brutal thing any government can do to its own citizens.”

Read more from Professor Yunus in an upcoming edition of The Big Issue.

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