Musician and Live Aid supremo Bob Geldof was Monday to return his Freedom of the City of Dublin 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” in a strongly worded 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,” Geldof said.
“I do not wish to be associated in any way with an individual currently engaged in the mass ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people.”
Geldof, who was born and brought up close to the Irish capital, plans to return the award at Dublin’s City Hall on Monday morning.
“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.