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LAST_UPDATEFri, 27 Oct 2017 9am

Oxford Uni Takes Down Portrait Of Suu Kyi, Replaces It With Japanese Painting

Portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi, removed from St Hugh's College, Oxford.Portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi, removed from St Hugh's College, Oxford.

A college in Oxford University has removed a portrait of Myanmar’s Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from its walls.

St Hugh’s College, where the Myanmar’s de facto leader received an honorary degree in 2012 for her peace efforts, made the decision to replace a portrait of her on the main entrance of the college with a painting by Japanese artist Yoshihiro Takada.

According to the college’s Communications Manager, Benjamin Jones, the portrait of Suu Kyi has been moved to a ‘secure location’, while Takada’s painting will be displayed ‘for a period’.

The portrait of Suu Kyi, painted by Chen Yanning in 1997, was hung near the college’s main entrance since 1999.

On the other hand, the painting that replaced Suu Kyi’s portrait spot was given by Takada as a generous gift to the college earlier this month, after he was given permission to work in the college throughout the summer.

The reason for the removal of the portrait is not clearly stated by the college, but it is suspected that the decision was made as a response to Suu Kyi’s failure in handling the Rohingya crisis plaguing Myanmar.

Last week, the university expressed concerns over Myanmar’s current state, saying: “[the University] hopes the Myanmar administration, led by Oxford alumna Aung San Suu Kyi, can eliminate discrimination and oppression, and demonstrate to the world that Myanmar values the lives of all its citizens”.

Earlier this month, the United Nations accused Myanmar of ethnic cleansing over the forced displacement of the 400,000 Rohingya people in the northern Rakhine state.

In reaction to the allegations, Suu Kyi gave a speech last week, condemning human rights abuses but failed to mention the allegations of ethnic cleansing.

The Nobel laureate’s silence amidst the crisis, despite her being known as a vocal activist against the junta regime of Myanmar, has disappointed many international leaders.

One human rights group, the Burma Campaign UK, has even called for St. Hugh’s College to go further than just taking her portrait off the walls of the college.

“This seems a rather cowardly action by St Hugh’s. If they have taken down the portrait because of Aung San Suu Kyi defending the Burmese military as they commit ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya they should say so and write to her urging her to respect human rights,” said Mark Farmaner, the group’s director, to The Guardian.

-- mD