Bob Geldof to return Freedom of Dublin City in Aung San Suu Kyi protest

Bob Geldof is to hand back his Freedom of the City of Dublin, saying he does not want to be associated with the award while it is also held by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Live Aid founder and musician blasted the Burmese Nobel peace laureate, who has faced widespread criticism over her country's treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority.

In a statement he said: "Her association with our city shames us all and we should have no truck with it, even by default. We honoured her, now she appals and shames us.

Mr Geldof said he would hand back the freedom at City Hall in the Irish capital on Monday morning.

Mr Geldof, who received an honorary knighthood from the Queen for his charity work, said he was a "proud Dubliner" but could not continue to hold the freedom while Ms Suu Kyi also held it.

He added: "In short, I do not wish to be associated in any way with an individual currently engaged in the mass ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people of north-west Burma.

"I am a founding patron of The Aegis Trust, who are concerned with genocide prevention and studies. Its founders built and maintain the National Holocaust Museum of the UK.

"I spoke at the inaugural National Holocaust Memorial Day at Westminster and in my time, I have walked amongst peoples who were sectionally targeted with ethnic cleansing.

"I would be a hypocrite now were I to share honours with one who has become at best an accomplice to murder, complicit in ethnic cleansing and a handmaiden to genocide."

More than 600,000 of the minority group have fled the northern Rakhine state into neighbouring Bangladesh since August, leading to a major humanitarian crisis.

It is not the first time Mr Geldof has spoken out against Ms Suu Kyi. Last month at a summit in Colombia he described her as "one of the great ethnic cleansers of our planet".

In his Sunday statement Mr Geldof added: "The moment she is stripped of her Dublin Freedom perhaps the council would see fit to restore to me that which I take such pride in. If not, so be it."

On Saturday fellow Irish musicians U2 also criticised Burma's civilian leader, urging her to fight harder against serious violence inflicted by the nation's own security forces.

The musicians, led by singer Bono, posted a lengthy plea on the band's website, saying they had tried several times to reach out to her directly.

They claimed that her failure to challenge the targeting of thousands of Rohingya was "starting to look a lot like assent".

They wrote: "So we say to you now what we would have said to her: the violence and terror being visited on the Rohingya people are appalling atrocities and must stop.

"Aung San Suu Kyi's silence is starting to look a lot like assent.

"As Martin Luther King said: 'The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people'.

"The time has long passed for her to stand up and speak out."


KEYWORDS: Bob Geldof, Dublin

 

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