Geldof hands back Freedom of Dublin in protest at Aung San Suu Kyi

13 November 2017, 00:39

Bob Geldof has given back his Freedom of the City of Dublin because Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi shares the same award.

Geldof said it was a "small personal gesture" in protest at the suffering of the Rohingya people.

Ms Suu Kyi has been criticised for her lack of response to the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim community, which has caused more than 600,000 people to flee to Bangladesh since August.

Explaining his position, Geldof told reporters: "I'm here to talk about genocide and mass murder and rape and the abuse of children."

Challenged on whether it was a publicity stunt, he said: "It is a PR stunt to try to dissociate this city from a murderer."

:: Babies dumped and left to die in Rohingya crisis

On his way to City Hall, he said he had not wanted to give up his award and that he was "really proud of it".

But he added that it was "the most I could do... and the least".

Describing his fury at Ms Suu Kyi, he told Sky News she was a "brute killer" and an "international pariah".

He said: "I just don't want to be on a very small select roll of people of which she is a member and I would hope that the city council take her name off the freedom scroll. I don't understand why they don't get a felt tip marker and just wipe her off."

Geldof said he felt "duped" by the leader, who he branded a "wretched woman", after he performed when she was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

"Personally speaking, I feel a complete chump, like I've been duped," he said.

"It is her job her responsibility to speak out and speak for all her people and if she feels unable to do that she should resign. I think she should be brought to the Hague."

:: Explained: The Rohingya refugee crisis

In a statement earlier, Geldof said he association with Dublin "shames us all".

He said: "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."

:: Why is the Rohingya crisis not classed as genocide?

Ms Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her "non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights" but she has been criticised for not doing enough to stop the persecution of the Rohingya.

The minority Muslim group is seen by the majority Buddhists as being foreigners, rather than belonging to Myanmar.

On Saturday, U2 said Ms Suu Kyi's failure to stop the violence was "starting to look a lot like assent".

Dublin's Lord Mayor (Ardmheara) Micheal Mac Donncha said: "Bob Geldof is entitled to return his award if he wishes to do so.

"When I raised the issue of removing the Freedom of the City from the Myanmar leader, consensus was not reached among the groups on the city council, though all have condemned the persecution of the Rohingya people, and the matter is not closed.

"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 (IS), causing offence to Dubliners and Irish people generally."