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Unifor revokes award to Aung San Suu Kyi

October 24, 2017

TORONTO – Unifor has revoked the union’s Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award given to Aung San Suu Kyi in 2000 during her time as a political prisoner. 

“Aung San Suu Kyi was the first recipient of this award, bestowed upon a voice for democracy who opposed oppressive military action,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “That same voice now remains silent and complicit during the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.”

Attacks on Rohingya villages have left death and destruction behind, creating a massive humanitarian crisis as more than 500,000 Rohingya have fled the violence. In light of the horrific situation in Myanmar, Unifor has determined that it must revoke the Nelson Mandela Award, the union’s greatest humanitarian honour, as a symbol of the union’s opposition to Suu Kyi’s inaction on the genocide.   

In a letter sent to notify Suu Kyi of the decision, the union stated “Silence in the face of mass suffering, a refusal to denounce the actions of the military when confronted with atrocities and an unwillingness to intervene to protect the lives of the Rohingya is not the leadership the world should expect, or accept, from a human rights leader.”    

Unifor, through the union’s Social Justice Fund, has donated a total of $100,000 to Doctors Without Borders and The UN High Commissioner for Refugees to provide aid to Rohingya refugees.

The union told Suu Kyi that the while the past cannot be undone the future can be remade, and that the world awaits her response.  To read the full letter to Aung San Suu Kyi click here.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org  or 416-896-3303 (cell).