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NOBEL

‘No question’ of stripping Suu Kyi of Nobel Peace Prize: Norway committee

Norway's Nobel Institute said Wednesday it had no intention of withdrawing its Peace Prize from Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi after a damning UN report termed the treatment of the Rohingya people as "genocide."

'No question' of stripping Suu Kyi of Nobel Peace Prize:  Norway committee
Aung San Suu Kyi's husband Michael Aris and their sons Kim and Alexander Aris accept her Nobel Prize for her in 1991. Photo: Bjørn Sigurdsøn/NTB Scapix
“There is no question of the Nobel Committee withdrawing the peace prize,” director Olav Njolstad said. “The rules of the Nobel Peace Prize do not allow it,” he added.
   
A UN probe released Monday detailed evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity “perpetrated on a massive scale” against the Rohingya, including acts of rape, sexual violence and mass killings. 
   
At a UN Security Council session on Tuesday, a number of countries — including the United States, Britain, France and Sweden — called for Myanmar's military leaders to be held accountable. 
   
Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 when she was detained by the military for championing democracy and human rights.
   
She was only allowed to leave Myanmar to recieve the award 21 years later as the military apparently eased its iron grip on the country.
   
As the Rohingya crisis has deepened in the past year with the flight of hundreds of thousands to neighbouring Bangladesh, Suu Kyi has come under increasing international pressure to speak out about their plight.
   
So far however she has said very little and steadfastly avoided any critical comment of Myanmar's military.
   
The Nobel Peace Prize committee had warned last year about the worsening situation in Myanmar and had urged all parties to do “everything possible to end discrimination against and persecution of minorities.”
   
Njolstad repeated that statement, adding: “This call is not any less timely after the UN report.”
   
The Myanmar government on Wednesday bluntly rejected the UN's findings.
   
“We didn't allow the (UN Fact-Finding Mission) to enter into Myanmar, that's why we don't agree and accept any resolutions made by the Human Rights Council,” government spokesman Zaw Htay said, according to the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper. 
   
He pointed to the formation of Myanmar's own Independent Commission of Enquiry, which he said was set up to respond to “false allegations made by UN agencies and other international communities.”

NOBEL

‘Not fair’ says Carl I. Hagen as parliament puts stop to Nobel Committee dream

Norway’s parliament on Friday voted in favour of allowing Labour party candidate Berit Reiss-Andersen to continue as a Nobel Committee member.

'Not fair' says Carl I. Hagen as parliament puts stop to Nobel Committee dream
Carl I. Hagen waits in Norway's Stortinget parliament while votes over Nobel Committee nominations are counted. Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB scanpix

Reiss-Andersen received 86 votes, while 16 ballots were cast in support of Carl I. Hagen, the former Progress Party leader, reports NRK.

A candidate from the Marxist Red Party received one vote.

“I know what is going to happen, and I won’t be elected,” Hagen told NRK prior to parliament’s vote on Friday.

The influential former leader of the populist Progress Party criticised Norway’s Stortinget parliament over the process that led to the dismissal of his ambitions to join the committee, which decides the award of the annual Nobel Peace Prize.

“It is comical and I think it is interesting that the speaker said that we cannot vote over Hagen’s candidacy since he is not eligible. At the same time, he said that I was one of three candidates that could be voted for,” Hagen told NRK following the vote.

The former Progress Party leader, who is now a deputy MP, also called the decision “sad”, “unfair” and “a parody not worthy of parliament,” according to NRK’s report.

“Why they think it is so bad for Hagen to join the Nobel Committee, I have no idea. I must be a worse person than I thought,” Hagen said.

Aged 73, Hagen is known for his inflammatory rhetoric. He once said that “a society without ethnic minorities is a harmonious society.”

The issue over selecting new members to the committee has created political drama in Norway since the Progress Party announced its support for Hagen’s candidature last month.

On Monday, parliament agreed to expedite a vote over whether to prevent deputy MPs – a role currently undertaken by Hagen — from serving on the committee.

The motion was carried on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Populist politician Hagen 'prepared to resign' from parliament role to join Nobel Committee

In addition, parliament decided Tuesday to examine, at a later date, whether members of the committee can also serve in leading positions with international organisations.

That could be problematic for former Labour Party leader Thorbjørn Jagland, who is a member of the committee and the secretary general of the Council of Europe.

Hagen told NRK that the process applied by parliament to approve the committee members had been carried out incorrectly.

“The proposal by the majority was to elect Berit Reiss-Andersen to the Nobel Committee from 2018 to 2023. A minority proposed me for the same period. The Progress Party wanted to vote for both, so we must vote for one proposal at a time,” Hagen said.

“If the majority wants to set two proposals against each other, you have to vote for one or the other even though you actually want to vote for both… carrying out alternative voting would be in breach of what is more or less normal constitutional practice,” he said on Thursday.

Parliamentary speaker Olemic Thommesen said on Thursday that Hagen’s bid to join the committee would be unsuccessful.

“There's no reason to believe that Carl I. Hagen will be elected,” Thommessen said.

“Parliament approved a motion earlier this week that deputy members and parliamentary representatives cannot be elected to the Nobel Committee,” he told NRK.

Hagen’s role as a deputy member would rule him out in accordance with that vote.

“That means that the Progress Party can, at a later time, nominate members for the Nobel Committee who are eligible,” Thommessen added.

NRK reported Friday that deputy member of the Nobel Committee Kristin Clemet would take over from Progress’ outgoing representative Inger Marie Ytterhorn until a permanent replacement was found.

The committee’s current members are now Berit Reiss-Andersen, Anne Anger, Henrik Syse and Thorbjørn Jagland. 

READ ALSO: Norway populist's Nobel committee bid appears blocked