Thursday 18 October 2018

'I don't want to be on the same list as a killer... a pariah' - Bob Geldof defends decision to hand back Freedom of Dublin accolade

  • Bob Geldof hands back his Freedom of the City of Dublin in protest at Burmese Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi holding the same accolade
  • Says he does not want to be on the same list as a 'killer', 'pariah'
  • Geldof: 'If you give me a felt tip pen, I'll show you how to remove her from the city scroll, I'll scratch her name out'
  • Dublin Lord Mayor Mícheál MacDonncha hits back at Geldof, says he finds move 'ironic'
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin.
Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin. Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today along side Gerard Mannix Flynn. Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today along side Gerard Mannix Flynn. Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today along side Gerard Mannix Flynn. Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today. Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today. Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today. Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today. Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today. Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today. Pic: Justin Farrelly.

Sean Nolan

Bob Geldof said he regrets having to hand back his Freedom of the City of Dublin, but he does not to be on a list with 'killer' and 'pariah' Burmese Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi .

Ms Suu Kyi, Burma's civilian leader, has faced widespread criticism and anger over the country's violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority, described by the UN as "textbook ethnic cleansing".

The Live Aid founder and musician blasted the Burmese leader, saying she was a "handmaiden to genocide" whose association with the capital "shames us all".

He handed back his Freedom of the City of Dublin accolade in protest at the Burmese politician holding the same accolade.

Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today.
Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today. Pic: Justin Farrelly.

Speaking on RTE Radio One's Today with Sean O'Rourke this morning, Mr Geldof said he feels "duped".

"I know this sounds pious, and I don't know how to make it not sounds pious, but I don't want to be on a very select roll of wonderful people and be honoured, thus myself... I don't want to be on it with a killer, at best a handmaiden to genocide and accomplice.

"I don't want to do this," he continued.

"I was very proud of that specific award. She was lauded by Dublin when she arrived, the city welcomed her.

Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today.
Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today. Pic: Justin Farrelly.

"They asked me to make a speech... you seem duped, you know, you feel chumped, like you've been taken for a ride.

"It seems very petty in the face of 600,000 people being bombed out of their strawed homes, the killing of the males and being forced to cross borders into another country, but it's all I can do.

Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today.
Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today. Pic: Justin Farrelly.

"And of course it's not enough."

Geldof asked the city of Dublin to remove Aung San Suu Kyi from the scroll of freedom.

Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today.
Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today. Pic: Justin Farrelly.

He said the leader has refused to attend the UN General Assembly "that every leader goes to" because she is "afraid, or whatever, ashamed"

"She's changed," Geldof continued.

Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today along side Gerard Mannix Flynn.
Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Bob Geldof returns his Freedom of Dublin city scroll to City Hall Dublin today along side Gerard Mannix Flynn. Pic: Justin Farrelly.

"The power has corrupted her absolutely. It's a bizarre situation.

"You become even more fragile when you kill your own people, you become a non-state.

"She is now a pariah."

When questioned by Sean O'Rourke as to what the next step was in removing your name from the scroll, Geldof replied;

"I sort of make these things up as I go along. I spoke to Owen [Dublin City Chief Executive Owen Keegan], I said was this okay.

"He explained it's very difficult to do as there is no constitutional mechanism for doing it.

"Nobody has given their freedom back.

"If you give me a felt tip pen, I'll show you how to remove her from the city scroll, I'll scratch her name out."

Criticism

In a statement today, Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál MacDonncha has hit back at the Boomtown Rats frontman, calling into question his retention of the Knighthood awarded to him in 1985 by Queen Elizabeth II for his humanitarian work.

"Bob Geldof is entitled to return his award if he wishes to do so," the Lord Mayor says. "It should be pointed out that as Ardmhéara 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. I have met Rohingya representatives in Ireland and I am pledged to assist them.

"When I raised the issue of removing the Freedom of the City from the Myanmar leader, consensus was not reached among the groups on the City Council, though all have condemned the persecution of the Rohingya people, and the matter is not closed.

The Sinn Fein member went on: "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. Mr Geldof last year grossly insulted the men and women of the 1916 Rising in the centenary year when he compared them to so-called 'Islamic State' (IS), causing offence to Dubliners and Irish people generally."

In his statement Mr Geldof said he would hand the award back at City Hall on Monday morning, because while he was a "proud Dubliner" he did not want the ceremonial title while Ms Suu Kyi also held it.

He said: "Her association with our city shames us all and we should have no truck with it, even by default. We honoured her, now she appalls and shames us.

"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."

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