Geldof accused of hypocrisy over Suu Kyi protest gesture

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Media captionBob Geldof: ‘I don’t want to give this up’

The lord mayor of Dublin has criticised Bob Geldof over his decision to return his Freedom of the City award in protest against it also being conferred on Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Councillor Micheal Mac Donncha said it was “ironic” that Geldof was keeping his honorary knighthood despite the UK’s “shameful record” of imperialism.

Ms Suu Kyi has been accused of ignoring the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.

More than half a million have fled to Bangladesh following recent violence.

“Bob Geldof is entitled to return his award if he wishes to do so,” the lord mayor was quoted as saying by BreakingNews.ie.

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Image caption Bob Geldof returned his award on Monday morning
Image caption Mr Mac Donncha is a member of Sinn Fein, a republican party that wants Britain to relinquish control of Northern Ireland

“It should be pointed out that as ardmhéara [lord mayor] I have condemned the persecution of the Rohingya people and their expulsion from their homes by the military in Myanmar and the failure of Aung San Suu Kyi to even acknowledge, let alone condemn, what the UN has described as ethnic cleansing.”

Mr Mac Donncha said he had met Rohingya representatives in Ireland and had pledged to assist them.

But he said there was no consensus on the issue of removing the Freedom of the City from the Myanmar leader among the groups on the city council.

“Regarding Mr Geldof himself, I find it ironic that he makes this gesture while proudly retaining his title as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, given the shameful record of British imperialism across the globe,” he added.

The lord mayor is a member of Sinn Fein, a republican party that wants Britain to relinquish control of Northern Ireland.

He also criticised Mr Geldof for “grossly insulting” those who participated in the 1916 rising against Britain by comparing them to so-called Islamic State (IS) last year, “causing offence to Dubliners and Irish people generally”.

Mr Geldof, the musician and founder of Band Aid, argued earlier that Ms Suu Kyi’s association with Dublin “shames us all”.

He said in a statement: “We should have no truck with it, even by default. We honoured her, now she appals and shames us.”

He handed back the award at City Hall in the Irish capital on Monday morning.

Why is Bob Geldof returning his award?

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Image caption Aung San Suu Kyi has faced widespread criticism over her response

Ms Suu Kyi has been condemned by international leaders and human rights groups over her reluctance to acknowledge the military violence, which the UN has called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

There have also been calls for her to be stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize she won in 1991.

What other reactions have there been?

Fellow Irish musicians U2 also criticised Ms Suu Kyi, the civilian leader of Myanmar, also known as Burma, urging her on Saturday to take a stronger stance against the reported violence by security forces.

In a statement on the band’s website, they said her failure to address the crisis was “starting to look a lot like assent”.

“So we say to you now what we would have said to her: the violence and terror being visited on the Rohingya people are appalling atrocities and must stop.”

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Media captionThousands of Rohingya refugees flee to Bangladesh

Various British cities have also either stripped of her of honours or are in the process of doing do.

St Hugh’s College at Oxford University, where Ms Suu Kyi read politics, has removed a portrait of her from display.

What has been going on in Myanmar?

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Media captionRohingya Muslims had to decide what to bring and what to leave.

The violence in Rakhine erupted on 25 August when Rohingya militants attacked security posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, triggering a military crackdown.

Scores of people have been killed in the crackdown and there are widespread allegations of villages being burned and Rohingya being driven out.

Myanmar’s military says it is fighting Rohingya militants and denies targeting civilians.

About 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since 25 August.

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