Oxford college removes portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar’s leader studied at Oxford in 1960s, earning BA in Philosophy, Politics, Economics

In 2012  Suu Kyi was celebrated with an honorary doctorate from Oxford University. File photograph: Soe Zeya Tun/Rueters

In 2012 Suu Kyi was celebrated with an honorary doctorate from Oxford University. File photograph: Soe Zeya Tun/Rueters

 

A portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi has been removed from the Oxford college where she studied, it is reported.

The state counsellor of Myanmar studied at St Hugh’s College between 1964 and 1967, earning a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. In 2012 Ms Suu Kyi was celebrated with an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, and held her 67th birthday party at the college.

The Swan student newspaper reported the painting was taken down on Thursday and replaced with a painting by Yoshihiro Takada.

It quoted Benjamin Jones from the college as saying the portrait has been moved to a “secure location” while the Takada piece was displayed “for a period”.

But the move by St Hugh’s was described as cowardly by the Burma Campaign UK group, which urged the college to go further. “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 campaign’s director.

The portrait, painted by the artist Chen Yanning in 1997, belonged to Ms Suu Kyi’s husband, the Oxford academic Michael Aris. After Mr Aris’s death in 1999 the portrait was bequeathed to St Hugh’s, and hung near the college’s main entrance on St Margaret’s Road in north Oxford.

Ms Suu Kyi has recently been pressed to take urgent action to end the suffering of the Muslim Rohingya people in Burma.

More than 400,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh amid reports of atrocities in Rakhine at the hands of the Burmese military.

At a meeting in Naypyidaw with the Nobel Prize winner, UK foreign minister Mark Field said the violence needs to stop and called for the government to allow full humanitarian access for aid.

Ms Suu Kyi, whose position as state counsellor does not give her authority over the military, has faced international criticism for her failure to speak out against alleged human rights abuses including mass killings, gang rapes and the burning of villages.

The UK’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson has called on Ms Suu Kyi to “show the leadership she is capable of to try to heal that terrible situation”.

PA and Guardian