Netizen 24 IRL: Geldof returns Freedom of Dublin in protest at 'killer' Suu Kyi

Geldof returns Freedom of Dublin in protest at 'killer' Suu Kyi Bob Geldof says he is handing back his Freedom of the City of Dublin...

Geldof returns Freedom of Dublin in protest at 'killer' Suu Kyi

Bob Geldof says he is handing back his Freedom of the City of Dublin in protest at the fact that the award is also held by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Geldof said he was a “proud Dubliner”, but could not hold the Freedom of the City while it is shared by Ms Suu Kyi, who has drawn international condemnation over Myanmar’s persecution of Rohingya Muslims.

“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 said.

Speaking further on Monday morning, Geldof said: “I don’t want to be o n it with a killer, someone who is at best a handmaiden to genocide and an accomplice to murder.”

He said he would hand back the award at City Hall on Monday, although he admitted he wasn’t sure how this would be done.

“I’m making this up as I go along. The City Manager doesn’t know what to do, he explained that it is difficult to take it off the scroll. No one has taken their freedom back before,” he told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

“Give me a felt tip pen and I can show you how to take it off.”

Dublin Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha said Geldof was e ntitled to return his award if he wished to do so, and he pointed out that Ms Suu Kyi’s actions had been condemned by members of the council.

However, the Sinn Féin councillor said: “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.”

‘Typical Sinn Féin’

In response, Geldof accused the Lord Mayor of trying to distract attention. “I’m a Dubliner, I got this honour from the people of Dublin. I would love if they removed San Suu Kyi from the roll of honour.”

He added: “I wish Sinn Féin would focus on issues to hand rather than going back 100 years. This is me doing my thing as I’ve always done.

“The Lord Mayor is a typical Sinn Féin guy doing the usual thing.”

Ms Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been widely criticised by former supporters, including fellow Nobel laureates, for failing to speak out against the violence being inflicted on thousands in her home country of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma).

Since August, more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled ethnic cleansing in the north of the country, creating a major humanitarian crisis in neighbouring Bangladesh.

In a statement issued on Sunday night, Geldof said: “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 northwest 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.”

Explaining on his reasoning, Geldof said he felt duped by Ms Suu Kyi as he performed when she was given the Freedom of Dublin.

“I feel like a chump, that I was taken for a ride.”

Geldof said he knew it sounded petty to rescind the honour but it was all he could do. He id not want to be associated with the award while it is also held by Ms Suu Kyi. However, if her name was removed from the roll of honour of people who have been given the Freedom of Dublin then he would be happy for his name to be added again.

“I don’t actually want to do this.”

U2 statement

Geldof’s comments follow a statement by U2 this weekend condemning the actions of Ms Suu Kyi. U2 lead singer Bono had previously been one of her most vocal supporters while she was under house arrest by Myanmar’s previous military government for her efforts to bring democracy to the country.

The post, signed “Adam, Bono, Edge, Larry” writes: “When she came to Dublin to thank Ireland and Amnesty International, we Irish could not have been more proud.

“When her party the NLD won a landslide in the elections and she stood her ground to become de-facto head of the country, an impossible journey seemed to be reaching its destination.”

The post continues that they could have “never imagined” Ms Suu Kyi would remain silent while more than 600,000 Rohingya people were forced to flee brutality in Myanmar.

The band members write that they never could have predicted “the woman who many of us believed would have the clearest and loudest voice on the crisis would go quiet. For these atrocities against the Rohingya people to be happening on her watch blows our minds and breaks our hearts.”

The Irish musicians say they have attempted to contact Ms Suu Kyi in recent months “to speak directly about the crisis in her country” and that they expected to speak to her this week but that the call had been cancelled.

“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.”

The group also called for greater international awareness of the role Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s military, has played in the crackdown on the Rohingya people, warning that condemning Ms Suu Kyi while ignoring Mr Aung Hlaing “is a mistake”.

“While this in no way excuses her silence, Aung San Suu Kyi has no control, constitutional or otherwise, over his actions, and it is he who has authorised and overseen the terrorisation of the Rohingya people under the guise of protecting Myanmar from terrorism,” writes U2.

“If this horror of human rights abuses is to stop, and if the long-term conditions for resettlement of the Rohingya people are to ever occur, General Min Aung Hlaing and his military must be just as much the focus of international action and pressure as Aung San Suu Kyi and her civilian government.”

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Netizen 24 Ireland: Netizen 24 IRL: Geldof returns Freedom of Dublin in protest at 'killer' Suu Kyi
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