DUBLIN: Musician and Live Aid supremo Bob Geldof on Monday (Nov 13) returned his Freedom of the City of Dublin scroll in a protest against Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who holds the same honour.
The Boomtown Rats singer slammed the Nobel peace laureate over her country’s treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority, calling her a “handmaiden to genocide” and saying the city had “been duped” into bestowing the award.
Geldof, who was born and brought up close to the Irish capital, returned the award at Dublin’s City Hall.
“Dublin shouldn’t have any link with this woman. We’ve been duped, she’s a murderer,” he said, explaining that although the council lacked the constitutional means to rescind the award he had a plan.
“Give me a felt tip pen and I can do it.”
He also demanded that the leader hand back her Nobel Prize “and perhaps she should appear at the Hague tribunals.”
The rocker earlier issued a statement saying Suu Kyi’s “association with our city shames us all”.
“In my time, I have walked amongst peoples who were sectionally targeted with ethnic cleansing,” 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.”
The UN now estimates the majority of the Rohingya once living in Rakhine – previously estimated at around one million – have fled a campaign of violence it has likened to ethnic cleansing.
For decades the Rohingya have faced persecution in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship and denigrated as illegal “Bengali” immigrants.
Suu Kyi, who leads Myanmar’s pro-democracy party, has been hammered by the international community for failing to use her moral power to speak up in defence of the Rohingya.
She visited conflict-wracked northern Rakhine for the first time on Nov 2, having come under mounting pressure to halt the army crackdown that forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee their homes.
Suu Kyi says the Rohingya who have fled are now welcome back, if they meet contested “verification” criteria for re-entry.