Musician-philanthropist Bob Geldof is returning a prestigious award Monday to protest Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi holding the same honor.
In giving back his Freedom of the City of Dublin, Geldof joins a chorus of international voices that have condemned Suu Kyi’s muted response to the ongoing Rohingya human rights crisis in Myanmar.
“Her association with our city shames us all,” Dublin-born Geldof said in a statement, according to the BBC. “We honored her, now she appalls and shames us.”
After a career with the Irish band Boomtown Rats — known for their hit I Don’t Like Mondays — Geldof shot to global prominence in 1984, when he formed the pop-charity organization Band Aid. Through concerts and the sale of recordings, the organization raised millions for poverty alleviation in Africa. He was awarded the Freedom of the City of Dublin in 2005. In 1999, Suu Kyi was accorded the same honor while under house arrest in Myanmar. Her NLD Party secured a sweeping victory in Myanmar’s 2015 elections.
More than half a million Rohingya have fled the country’s western Rakhine State since militants attacked security posts there on August 25. The UN has called the ensuing military crackdowns as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and refugees have repeatedly described scenes of murder, rape, and the razing of their villages at the hands of authorities and local mobs.
Suu Kyi’s failure to intervene in the crisis, Geldoff said, is “starting to look a lot like assent.”
In what it described as an “unprecedented step” Oxford City Council stripped the Nobel Prize winner of a similar freedom of the city award in October. Suu Kyi’s portrait at St. Hugh’s College at Oxford University, where she read politics, has also been taken down.
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