Geldof returns Dublin honour in protest over Aung San Suu Kyi

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Irish musician and activist Bob GeldofImage copyright EPA
Image caption Irish musician and activist Bob Geldof said he is “shamed” to share the honour with Suu Kyi

Bob Geldof has said he will return his Freedom of the City of Dublin in protest against the Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who also holds the award.

Mr Geldof said “her association with our city shames us all”.

Ms Suu Kyi has faced heavy criticism over her failure to address allegations of ethnic cleansing against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.

More than half a million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh following recent violence.

Mr Geldof, the musician and founder of Band Aid, said in a statement: “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 is handing back the award at City Hall in the Irish capital on Monday morning.

Why is Bob Geldof returning his award?

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Aung San Suu Kyi has faced widespread criticism over her response to reported atrocities

Ms Suu Kyi has been condemned by international leaders and human rights groups over her reluctance to acknowledge the military violence, which the UN has called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

There have also been calls for her to be stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize she won in 1991.

Reacting to Mr Geldof’s announcement, Lord Mayor Micheal Mac Donnacha of Dublin City Council said on Monday: “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.”

What other reactions have there been?

Fellow Irish musicians U2 also criticised Ms Suu Kyi, the civilian leader of Myanmar, also known as Burma, urging her on Saturday to take a stronger stance against the reported violence by security forces.

In a statement on the band’s website, they said her failure to address the crisis was “starting to look a lot like assent”.

“So we say to you now what we would have said to her: the violence and terror being visited on the Rohingya people are appalling atrocities and must stop.”

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Media captionThousands of Rohingya refugees flee to Bangladesh

Last month, Oxford City Council decided to strip Ms Suu Kyi of the freedom of the city, which she was awarded in 1997, in an “unprecedented step” for the local authority.

The City of London is also to consider a similar step.

Earlier this month, she was also stripped of the freedom of the cities of Sheffield and Glasgow because of her response to the Rohingya crisis.

St Hugh’s College at Oxford University, where Ms Suu Kyi read politics, has removed a portrait of her from display.

What has been going on in Myanmar?

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Media captionRohingya Muslims had to decide what to bring and what to leave.

The violence in Rakhine erupted on 25 August when Rohingya militants attacked security posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, triggering a military crackdown.

Scores of people have been killed in the crackdown and there are widespread allegations of villages being burned and Rohingya being driven out.

Myanmar’s military says it is fighting Rohingya militants and denies targeting civilians.

About 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since 25 August.

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