Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Why Canada just stripped Aung San Suu Kyi's honorary citizenship

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has failed to adequately address human rights violations against the Rohingya in Myanmar, according to Canadian legislators.

Image: Paul Miller/Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • Suu Kyi won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her work in promoting democracy in Myanmar, and Canada voted to grant her honorary citizenship in 2007.
  • Suu Kyi has stayed silent about and opposed investigations into human rights violations against the Rohingya by Myanmar security forces.
  • The vote comes in the wake of a U.N. report that found evidence that Myanmar military officials had committed the 'gravest crimes' against the ethnic minority in 2017.

The Canadian government voted on Tuesday to revoke the honorary citizenship of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's civilian leader, for her failure to combat and aid in the investigation of human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority in the Southeast Asian nation.

In 2007, Canada granted the rare designation to Suu Kyi, who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper said at the time that she had been "one of the leading forces in the continuing struggle for democracy and human rights" in Myanmar.

"At that point, she was a champion for change and human rights... The world pinned its hope on her as the shining light and hope for a democratic and peaceful Myanmar," Canadian Senator Ratna Omidvar, who introduced the bill, recently told fellow legislators.

The recent vote was mostly symbolic.

"We need to send a strong signal here in Canada and around the world that if you're an accomplice of a genocide, you are not welcome here," Omidvar said. "Stripping her of her honorary citizenship may not make a tangible difference to her, but it sends an important symbolic message."

Myanmar's 'gravest crimes'

The decision comes in the wake of a United Nations fact-finding mission that found senior military officials in Myanmar had directed violence toward Rohingya civilians that "undoubtedly amounted to the gravest crimes under international law" in Rakhine, and also in the states of Kachin and Shan.

Suu Kyi expressed opposition to the U.N. investigation when it was announced last year.

"We are disassociating ourselves from the resolution because we don't think the resolution is in keeping with what is actually happening on the ground," Suu Kyi said in 2017.

Since the 1970s, nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar, often to neighboring Bangladesh or Malaysia. It's hard to gauge exactly how many Rohingya have been killed in the ongoing conflicts, but the recent U.N. report suggests about 10,000 died in a campaign executed by Myanmar security officials beginning in August 2017, and a separate report from the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights says more than 40,000 Rohingya are listed as 'missing' in the six months that followed.

"We must recognize this atrocity for what it is," Omidvar said. "It is genocide. We must call it as it is."

LIVE ON MONDAY | "Lights, camera, activism!" with Judith Light

Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

Scientists see 'rarest event ever recorded' in search for dark matter

The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

Image source: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
  • The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
  • The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Keep reading Show less

The mind-blowing science of black holes

What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.

Videos
  • When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
  • A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
  • Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."

Space travel could create language unintelligible to people on Earth

A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.

Cylindrical space colony.

Credit: NASA Ames Research Center.
Surprising Science
  • A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
  • Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
  • This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast