Bob Geldof has handed back his Freedom of the City of Dublin in protest because Maynamar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi holds the same honour.
Mr Geldof was one of those who honoured the Nobel Prize winner when she visited Dublin a couple of years ago.
Ms Suu Kyi has been widely criticised by her former supporters, including fellow Nobel laureates, for not speaking out against the violence inflicted on Rohingya Muslims in her home country which was once known as Burma.
Since August, more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled ethnic cleansing in the north of the country, creating a major humanitarian refugee crisis in Bangladesh.
Geldof, who said he was a proud Dubliner and the Freedom of Dublin was one of the awards closest to his heart, said he could not keep the same company as “a handmaiden to genocide”.
“I know this sounds pious, I don’t know how to not make it sound pious but I don’t want to be on a very select row of wonderful people and be honoured thus, myself, of which I’m very proud and I don’t want to be on it with a killer.
“Someone who is, at best, a handmaiden to genocide and an accomplice to murder.
“I know that sounds grandstanding but forgive me if that’s the case. I don’t actually want to do this because, as I said, I’m very proud of that specific award.
“I’m also a founding patron of a thing called the Aegis Trust who deal with genocide prevention and genocide studies and they built the National Holocaust Museum in the UK and, on the first national Holocaust Memorial Day in Britain, I spoke at Westminster.
“But, even beyond that, when Aung San Suu Kyi was lauded by Dublin, when she arrived and this city extravagantly welcomed her, I sang welcome and spoke welcomely. They asked me to make a speech to her on the stage theatre when she was there and you feel duped.
“You know? I mean, that’s personally, you feel a chump, like you’ve been taken for a ride. Now that seems very petty in the face of 600,000 people being bombed out of their strewed homes, mass rape, killing of the males and being forced to cross impenetrable borders to another country.
“It seems very petty but, it’s all I can do…”
The Lord Mayor of Dublin Sinn Féin’s Mícheál Mac Donncha said that Mr Geldof “is entitled to return his award if he wishes to do so.”
He said he found 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.”
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