Bob Geldof hands back Freedom of Dublin in Aung San Suu Kyi protest
Published : 13 Nov 2017, 15:39:08
Bob Geldof will return his Freedom of the City of Dublin on Monday in protest at the fact that Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi also holds the accolade.
The political activist and Boomtown Rats frontman said he would be a “hypocrite” to share honours with “one who has become at best an accomplice to murder and a handmaiden to genocide”.
The Live Aid founder tore into the Burmese Nobel peace prize winner for her silence over a humanitarian crisis that has driven more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine state in western Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh.
The politician has drawn criticism for her treatment of the minority, with the UN describing it as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
In a statement, Geldof 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.”
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.”
Geldof, 66, who was born in County Dublin, has held the freedom of the city since 2005. He said that while he was a “proud Dubliner”, he could not hold the accolade alongside Aung San Suu Kyi.
He added in the statement on Sunday: “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.”
Some 82 individuals, including Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, and the Obamas, have been awarded the honour since its launch in 1876. The prize is reserved for those who have made a contribution to the city or Ireland.
Geldof’s latest criticism followed comments he made at the One World Summit in Colombia last month in which he labelled the Myanmar leader as “one of the great ethnic cleansers of our planet”.
U2, whose frontman Bono is a recipient of the honour as well, also criticised the 72-year-old in a lengthy statement on their website over the weekend. The band wrote: “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.”
Myanmar’s de facto leader is to be stripped of the Freedom of the City of Oxford in coming weeks, after the city council voted unanimously to support a cross-party motion deeming it “no longer appropriate” for her to hold the honour. The council will hold a meeting to confirm the move on 27 November.
The vote came as the college that she attended as an Oxford undergraduate placed her portrait in storage last month. St Hugh’s College removed Suu Kyi’s picture from its main entrance just before the start of the academic year, saying in a statement: “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.”-Theguardian