Bob Geldof defends decision to return the Freedom of the City of Dublin
Update 10.45 am
BOB GELDOF IS to return his freedom of Dublin city in protest at the award also being held by Myanmarâs leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Geldof has said he is âa very proud Dublinerâ but that Suu Kyi is engaged with â mass ethnic cleansingâ and he in no way wants to be associated with her.
Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Freedom of the City on 1 November 1999, the same day all the members of U2 also received the award.
Suu Kyi was under house arrest in Myanmar when she was honoured and she accepted it in person in 2012.
Geldof received the freedom of Dublin city in November 2005 but he has now said he will hand it back to the city manager at City Hall today at 11 am today.
Dublin City Council confirmed that Geldof would be âhanding back the scroll he receivedâ and that an official from the counc il would be there to accept it from him.
âIt is with deep sadness and great regret that I feel obliged to return to Dublin City Council the great honour bestowed upon me of the Freedom of the City of Dublin, Geldof said in a statement.
I am a very proud Dubliner but cannot in all conscience continue to be one of the honoured few to have received this great tribute whilst Aung San Suu Kyi remains amongst that number. 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.
Up to half a million Rohingya muslims have been fleeing Myanmar towards Bangladesh amid a military crackdown that has been has been described as ethnic cleansing.
The Rohingya people have had a long and troubled history in Myanmar, where many of the countryâs 60 million people look at them with disdain.
Though members of the long-persecuted religious min ority first arrived generations ago, they were stripped of their citizenship in 1982, denying them almost all rights and rendering them stateless.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu
Suu Kyi is the de facto leader of Myanmar although her actual power has been questioned with the country effectively run by the its military.
Despite this, Suu Kyi has not spoken out against the violence against the Rohingya, instead saying that the âgreat majorityâ of muslims within the conflict zone had not filed.
Geldof has now said Suu Kyiâs inaction has meant that she is âat best complicit in ethnic cleansing and a handmaiden to genocide.â
âI 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,â Geldof said.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.
âHer association with our city shames us all and we should have no truck with it, even by default. We honoured her, now she appalls and shames us,â he added.
Dublin-born Geldof was awarded a KBE (Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire) by Britainâs Queen Elizabeth II in 1986 due to his fundraising with the Live Aid project.
In a response to Geldofâs decision, Dublinâs mayor MÃcheÃ¡l Mac Donncha said that he was entitled to return his award but that he himself has spoken out against the killing of Rohingya muslims.
âAs ArdmhÃ©ara I have condemned the persecution of the Rohingya people and their expulsion from their homes by the military in Myanmar and the failure of Aung San Suu Kyi to even acknowledge, let alone condemn, what the UN has described as ethnic cleansing,â Mac Donncha.
The mayor went on to say that he felt Geldofâs decision is âironicâ given his KBE from Britainâs Queen.
Regarding Mr Geldof himself, I find it ironic that he makes this gesture while proudly retaining his title as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, given the shameful record of British imperialism across the globe. Mr Geldof last year grossly insulted the men and women of the 1916 Rising in the centenary year when he compared them to so-called Islamic State, causing offence to Dubliners and Irish people generally.
Speaking on RTÃâs Sean OâRourke programme in response to Mac Donncha, Geldof said the Sinn FÃ©in politician was deflecting.
âSinn FÃ©in is of course trying to distract attention from som e non sequitur,â Geldof said.
The former Boomtown Rats singer has said that he would be proud to have the Freedom of the City of Dublin restored on him should it be stripped from Suu Kyi.
In the UK, the Freedom of Oxford was stripped from Suu Kyi last month.