Rohingya crisis: Bob Geldof hands back Dublin honour in Suu Kyi protest
Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest when she was given the Freedom of Dublin in 1999 and received her award at a public reception in Ireland in 2012.world Updated: Nov 13, 2017 20:10 IST
Irish musician and anti-poverty activist Bob Geldof will return his “Freedom of the City of Dublin” award to his hometown on Monday, saying he could not continue to hold the honour with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Well over 600,000 Muslims from Myanmar’s Rakhine state have fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh after military clearance operations described by the United Nations as ethnic cleansing were launched in response to attacks by Rohingya militants.
The plight of the Rohingya has brought outrage from around the world and there have been calls for Suu Kyi to be stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize she won in 1991 because she has not condemned the Myanmar military’s actions.
“I am a very proud Dubliner but cannot in all conscience continue to beone of thehonoured few tohave received this great tribute whilstAung San SuuKyi remains amongst that number,” Geldof said in a statement.
“In short, I do not wish to be associated in any way with an individual currently engaged inthemass ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people of North West Burma.”
Suu Kyi, previously renowned for her human rights activism, was under house arrest when she was given the Freedom of Dublin in 1999 and received her award at a public reception in Ireland in 2012, two years after her release.
Last month, she was stripped of a similar honour by the British university city of Oxford, where she was an undergraduate.
Other foreign recipients of the Freedom of Dublin since it was first awarded in 1876 include John F Kennedy, Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Geldof, a former singer for the Boomtown Rats, was given the honour in 2005 in recognition of his charity work which included organising the 1985 Live Aid concert, which reached an estimated 1.5 billion people and did much to raise the profile of those suffering from starvation and disease in Ethiopia.
“Her association with ourcity shames us all and we should haveno truck with it, even by default.We honoured her, now she appals and shames us,” Geldof said.
“The moment she is stripped of her Dublin Freedom perhaps the Councilwould see fit to restore to me that which I take such pride in. Ifnot so be it. Please accept this small gestureand the sadness that accompanies it.”