Some Muslim students have protested the Harvard Foundation’s selection of Aung Sang Suu Kyi for the 2016 “Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award” award, saying she has done nothing to address the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in her country, according to an article on the Harvard Crimson website on 17 September.
The Harvard Foundation grants the annual award to “an individual whose works and deeds have served to improve the quality of our lives and have inspired up to greater heights,” according to its website. Recent award recipients include education activist Malala Yousafzai, Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon.
According to the report, the Harvard Islamic Society’s Director of External Relations, Anwar Omeish, said the student organization felt the decision to award Suu Kyi, who received the award at a ceremony on Saturday evening in the Science Centre, was “really jarring.” She was also quoted as saying that ‘I think for us we see the type of rhetoric surrounding the Rohingya in Myanmar, the similar war on terror rhetoric that creates violence against people across the world and that affects us here.’
Speaking at the award ceremony Suu Kyi was quoted in Myanmar state media as saying, ‘I believe that fear is at the root of all division, because fear leads to hatred, and hatred leads to division,” and that, ‘In my country, there is still a long way to go before I can say that our people are both free and secure.’