Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna has said that he wants to revoke Myanmar State Counsellor Suu Kyi’s Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honour in the US, which was bestowed on her with much fanfare six years ago.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi has been silent as military rulers of Myanmar ravaged the Rohingyas, an ethnic minority group on the country’s western border, in a brutal campaign the UN deemed “genocide”.
“For Aung San Suu Kyi to not speak out and to talk about a proportionate response to terrorism is a total abdication of any morality,” Khanna, a Democrat from California, was quoted as saying by the Hill newspaper.
“We should revoke the congressional medal, and beyond that she should be investigated as part of the UN’s (war crimes) tribunal,” he said.
While there is a growing appetite on Capitol Hill for concrete steps to press Suu Kyi to rediscover the voice of moral clarity that made her a celebrated human rights symbol, many are out of patience.
“Her leadership is unacceptable – she’s turned a deaf ear – and who the hell is she kidding?” said Representative Bill Pascrell. “She came in like the Blessed Mary and she’s wound up like Jezebel.”
But Representative Gerry Connolly said that revoking the medal may effectively harm their cause and send “a really strong burn-your-bridge kind of message”.
“If our object here is to engage her and to incentivize and encourage her to speak out, even though we understand the delicacy of the balance with the military, I’m not sure that’s the best way to do it,” he said.
To make their case, bipartisan coalitions in both chambers of the Congress have sent a flurry of letters to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging tougher sanctions on the repressive Myanmar government.
One notable exception to the condemnations was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a close friend to Suu Kyi, who says that she “simply lacks the power to rein in the violence in a country where the military elite still yield outsized authority over public policy – and could potentially knock her from power”.