Irish musician Bob Geldof on Monday said he will return his Freedom of the City of Dublin award protesting the fact that Myanmar’s defacto leader Aung San Suu Kyi also holds the award, BBC reported. Suu Kyi has has been criticised by world leaders and human rights organisations for the alleged “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State.
“Her association with our city shames us all and we should have no truck with it, even by default,” Geldof, a former singer for the Boomtown Rats, said in a statement. “We honoured her, now she appalls and shames us. 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.”
Anti-poverty activist Geldof, 66, was honoured in 2005 for his charity work, including organising the 1985 Live Aid concert that helped deal with starvation and disease in Ethiopia. “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,” he added.
Suu Kyi was awarded the Freedom of Dublin in 1999 when she was under house arrest. She received her award in Ireland in 2012, two years after she was released.
In October, the Oxford City Council took away the Suu Kyi’s Freedom of Oxford title. A motion at the Oxford City Council said it was “no longer appropriate” for her to hold it.
The Rohingya crisis
Lakhs of Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh in recent weeks, after violence broke out in Rakhine state. Rohingyas have been denied citizenship in Myanmar and are classified as illegal immigrants. The community has been subjected to violence by the Buddhist majority and the Army in Myanmar, though the country has repeatedly denied this claim.