Brussels, Belgium

The European Parliament on Thursday suspended Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi from the group of former winners of its top human rights prize because of her “failure to act and her acceptance" of the oppression of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic group.

A long-time political prisoner before she came to power, Suu Kyi was once admired for her non-violent struggle against Myanmar’s military rule and she won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

Aung San Suu Kyi Sept 2020

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi gestures while wearing a face shield, mask and gloves during a flag-raising ceremony to mark the first day of election campaigning at the National League for Democracy party's temporary headquarters in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Tuesday, 8th September. Myanmar holds a general election on 8th November and began a sixty-day election campaign period Tuesday, which may be disrupted due to a resurgence of the coronavirus. PICTURE: AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo.

But in recent years, she has been rejected internationally for Myanmar’s oppression of the Rohingya. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape the army’s brutal counterinsurgency campaign in 2017.

“The exclude Aung San Suu Kyi formally from all activities of the community of Sakharov Prize laureates is a response to her failure to act and her acceptance of the ongoing crimes against the Rohingya community in Myanmar," the EU Parliament said in a statement.

Suu Kyi won the Sakharov Prize in 1990 but was only able to collect it 23 years later.

She is currently Myanmar's state counsellor, the de facto head of state. She looks set to keep her position after the 8th November general election, with her National League for Democracy party widely expected to again win the most seats. 

As state counsellor, Suu Kyi does not oversee the military, but she has repeatedly denied accusations that the army committed genocide against the Rohingya.