Irish singer and songwriter Bob Geldof on Monday, 13 November, will return his Freedom of the City of Dublin honour because Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi also holds the award. He held the honour since 2005 and Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor of Myanmar, won the award in 1999.
Announcing his decision on Sunday, 12 November, Geldof said he saw Suu Kyi as "an accomplice to murder and a handmaiden to genocide". The Myanmar leader is facing criticism from across the world for allowing military action against minority Rohingya Muslims in the Buddhist-majority nation.
The Nobel Peace prize winner was also blamed for maintaining silence over weeks of violence in Rakhine state, where the majority of Rohingyas have lived for generations. Since the start of a military operation in the state in September, nearly 600,000 Rohingyas have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Eventually giving in to international pressure, Suu Kyi spoke on the crisis in her country on 19 September.
Here is a round-up of her statements versus what Geldof said in his latest comments about the Myanmar State Counsellor:
Suu Kyi said:
- I'm aware of the fact that the world's attention is focused on the situation in Rakhine state. As a responsible member of the community of nations, Myanmar does not fear international scrutiny.
- There have been allegations and counter-allegations ... We have to make sure those allegations are based on solid evidence before we take action.
- After half a century or more of authoritarian rule, now we are in the process of nurturing our nation. We are a young and fragile country facing many problems, but we have to cope with them all. We cannot just concentrate on the few.
- We are concerned to hear that a large number of Muslims are fleeing across the border to Bangladesh. We want to find out why this exodus is happening.
- The security forces have been instructed to adhere strictly to the code of conduct in carrying out security operations, to exercise all due restraint, and to take full measures to avoid collateral damage and the harming of innocent civilians.
- 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.
- Her association with our city shames us all and we should have no truck with it, even by default.
- We honoured her, now she appalls and shames us. 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.
- 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.