Letter from U2 calls for Freedom of City awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi be withdrawn

U2 has called on Dublin City Council to rescind the Freedom of the City it awarded to Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi over her response to the country’s Rohingya crisis, writes Joe Leogue.

The letter from the band comes a month after Bob Geldof returned the honour, which he received in 2005, in protest at her also holding the distinction.

Hundreds of thousands Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar for Bangladesh amid claims they are victims of violent ethnic cleansing, and allegations that Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to act on the crisis.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent over two decades under house arrest before coming to power, was awarded the Freedom of the Dublin in 1999, the same day the award was bestowed on all four members of U2.

U2 dedicated the song ‘Walk On’ from their 2000 album ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’ to her and her struggle.

However in a letter to Dublin City Councillors, the band have now called on the local authority to rescind the honour.

“The decision of who should and shouldn’t have this honour lies with you. But we felt compelled to write given our history with you, and with Aung San Suu Kyi. We believe her failure to stand up for the rights of the Rohingya constitutes a betrayal of the principles for which she was so revered… and for which she received the Freedom of the City,” the band wrote.

Green Party City Councillor Ciarán Cuffe backed the call.

Read the full text of letter below ...

Dear Councillor,

We write as long-time supporters of Amnesty International, and as extremely proud recipients of the Freedom of the City. We remember very clearly the day when we received that honour alongside Aung San Suu Kyi whose son Kim accepted on her behalf.

The day was a very special one for us first and foremost because Dublin is our hometown. Of the various “awards” - deserved or not - we’ve been lucky enough to receive over the years, this is by far the one that means the most to us. It was also special because we’d been so moved by the strength and fortitude shown by Aung San Suu Kyi in then-Burma. We were campaigning for her release and were proud of Dublin’s recognition of her courage, and that of her colleagues, to bring about fledgling democracy against all odds… against one of the most brutal regimes of modern times.

So it saddens us to be writing to you today as you discuss recent events in Myanmar and decide whether that merits the rescinding of the honour you bestowed on her.

We believe it does.

You have the same facts as we have, which indicate that deliberate and brutal violence, rape, and murder are being used to drive the Rohingya from Rakhine State. This persecution has been authorised and led by Min Aung Hlaing, the Head of Myanmar’s military. While Aung San Suu Kyi does not have the capacity to control the military, she does have the responsibility to condemn their actions.

The civilian government that she leads is responsible for everyone in her country, and no matter how difficult her position is, to stand by while half a million lives and livelihoods are deliberately decimated by the Myanmar Military is beyond comprehension. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

The decision of who should and shouldn’t have this honour lies with you. But we felt compelled to write given our history with you, and with Aung San Suu Kyi. We believe her failure to stand up for the rights of the Rohingya constitutes a betrayal of the principles for which she was so revered… and for which she received the Freedom of the City. The City of Dublin sent a very strong message in defence of human rights in 1999, we believe an equally strong message in defence of human rights is just as important now.

Thanks for your time.

Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr and Adam Clayton


 

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