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Oxford college removes painting of Aung San Suu Kyi

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An Oxford college where Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi studied as an undergraduate has removed her portrait from public display, in a move that follows global criticism over her role in her countrys humanitarian crisis.

The governing body of St Hugh’s college, one of the University of Oxford’s constituent colleges, decided to remove the painting of the Nobel laureate from its main entrance on Thursday, days before the start of the university term and the arrival of new students, the Guardian reported late on Friday.

In 2012, Suu Kyi was celebrated with an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, and held her 67th birthday party at the college where she studied politics, philosophy and economics between 1964 and 1967.

In a statement St Hugh’s said: “The college received the gift of a new painting earlier this month which will be exhibited for a period. The painting of Aung San Suu Kyi has, meanwhile, been moved to storage.”

St Hugh’s student newsletter, The Swan, said the decision to remove the portrait was taken by the college’s governing body, which includes its fellows and principal Elish Angiolini.

The portrait, painted by the artist Chen Yanning in 1997, belonged to Suu Kyi’s husband, the Oxford academic Michael Aris, reports the Guardian.

After 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.

The Oxford council will vote next week on stripping Suu Kyi of the freedom of the city it bestowed on her in 1997, when she was being held as a political prisoner by Myanmar’s military junta.

So far Oxford University has decided not to reconsider Suu Kyi’s honorary degree. But last week the university expressed its “profound concern” over the treatment of the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority.

Over 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh after the ongoing spate of violence began on August 25 when Rohingya rebels attacked police checkposts in Rakhine state and killed 12 security personnel.