Oxford University removes portrait of Myanmar's Suu Kyi

Published 30.09.2017 16:05
Updated 01.10.2017 13:12
emAP Photo/em
AP Photo

The Oxford University where Aung San Suu Kyi studied said Saturday it had taken down a portrait of Myanmar's leader, a decision that follows widespread criticism of her over the Rohingya genocide.

The portrait, which was on display in the main entrance of St Hugh's College, has been placed in storage and was replaced on Thursday with a new painting gifted by Japanese artist Yoshihiro Takada.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi studied at St Hugh's, graduating in philosophy, politics and economics in 1967 before completing a masters in politics in 1968.

"We received a new painting earlier this month which will be exhibited at the main entrance for a period," the college said in a statement.

"The painting of Aung San Suu Kyi has meanwhile been moved to a secure location."

The university did not say whether the removal was linked to the ongoing crisis in Myanmar's western Rakhine State.

An estimated 436,000 Rohingyas have arrived in Bangladesh in the last month alone, fleeing violence that the U.N. has called a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingyas have been killed in the bloodshed. In total, more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees are now believed to be in Bangladesh.

Turkey has been at the fore in providing aid to displaced Rohingyas and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has raised the issue with the U.N.

Rohingya Muslims, described by the U.N. as the most widely persecuted ethnic group in the world, have faced heightened fears of being targeted since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Myanmar has rejected accusations from the U.N. that its forces are engaged in ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, claiming the clashes began in response to coordinated attacks on security forces by Rohingya insurgents on Aug. 25.

The removal of the 1997 portrait by the Chinese artist Chen Yanning comes a few days before new students arrive at the college to start their courses.

The portrait belonged to Suu Kyi's husband, the Oxford academic Michael Aris, and was bequeathed to the college after his death in 1999.

St Hugh's also counts British Prime Minister Theresa May among its alumni.

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