Sir Bob Geldof, a founding patron of the Aegis Trust, has today handed back his Freedom of the City of Dublin in protest that it continues to be held by Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi despite her government’s ongoing military campaign against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Described by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” Myanmar’s campaign against its Rohingya population has involved appalling atrocities and the systematic burning of villages, leaving high numbers dead and driving hundreds of thousands into exile.
Referring to Aung San Suu Kyi, Geldof stated, “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 added: “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.
“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.
“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.”
Geldof concluded: “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.”
In a statement issued on 11 November, Irish rock band U2 – who spent almost two decades campaigning for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from detention as a figurehead for Burmese democracy – urging her to act to end the atrocities against the Rohingya. “Aung San Suu Kyi’s silence is starting to look a lot like assent,” they said.
STAND, the youth arm of the Aegis Trust in the US and UK, has put a campaigning focus on the Rohingya crisis for this academic year, noting in this statement released in September that the UN Security Council has yet to take definitive action for protection of the Rohingya.
“The Aegis Trust is proud of the stand taken today by founding patron Bob Geldof to focus attention on the appalling suffering of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims and on Aung San Suu Kyi’s failure to even acknowledge this, let alone to do all in her power to secure their protection,” says Dr James Smith, Chief Executive of the Aegis Trust.
“Aung San Suu Kyi should and could still demonstrate moral leadership on this crisis. However, the time for the international community to wait on her to do so is long since over. As the Government of Myanmar is unable or unwilling to protect its Rohingya Muslim community, the responsibility to protect falls to the international community. A holistic, effective and coordinated response from the UN Security Council is now essential.”