Split picture of two women
The Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Berit Reiss-Andersen and Burma's leader Aung San Suu Kyi Credit: Jens Möller/Sveriges Radio and Aung Shine Oo/AP/TT

'Not possible' to recall Aung San Suu Kyi peace prize

Committee Chair: It is against our statutes
1:25 min

Despite international criticism, it is not possible to recall the Nobel Peace Prize from Aung San Suu Kyi, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel committee explains.

Over 400,000 people have signed a petition demanding that the Nobel Committee takes back the Nobel Peace Prize from Burma's leader Aung San Suu Kyi due to her government's treatment of the Rohingya people in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

But that is not possible, says Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

"It is not practically possible, it is against our statutes. We select a winner because that person or organisation has done something at the time that the prize is being awarded. That is what we can be held accountable for," she told Swedish Radio, noting that they cannot do much about what a laureate does afterwards.

Aung San Suu Kiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, but has over the past few months been sharply criticised internationally for how Burma has treated the Rohingya ethnic minority, who have fled Burma in droves under attack from Burmese military.

Recently, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the country seemed to be carrying out a “systematic attack” on the mostly Muslim minority and said "the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

Reiss-Andersen finds the situation for the Rohingya people "very troublesome", and admits that the actions of a peace prize laureate can affect the reputation of the prize.

"It discredits the prize, but it is not the Nobel Committee that should censor or point out those actions," she said.

On Friday, Reiss-Andersen will announce who will be the winners of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. It is the only Nobel Prize that is awarded in Oslo, following the will of Alfred Nobel. All the others are announced in Stockholm.

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