Aung San Suu Kyi’s Freedom of Dublin award could be rescinded tonight. City councillors are meeting to discuss calls to remove the honour she has held for 17 years.
Dublin City Council’s monthly meeting faces two decisions, because the leader of Myanmar has refused to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in the west of the country.
Rock star and human rights campaigner, Bob Geldof, last month publicly handed back his own freedom-of-the-city scroll and asked that his name be taken off the register of recipients, in protest at Ms Suu Kyi’s continued inclusion.
No precedent for such a request exists and councillors will tonight debate how to handle it. But they will also discuss the wider issue of Ms Suu Kyi’s status as freeman and whether it should be rescinded.
While a number of councillors have called for her removal from the register of freemen, the majority have been quiet on the subject and some are understood to feel unfairly forced into action by Mr Geldolf’s self-acknowledged publicity stunt.
The small Rohingya community in Ireland, who came here as refugees in 2009, wrote a lengthy plea to the city council ahead of tonight’s debate, asking them to take back the freedom award, saying it was at odds with Ireland’s and Dublin’s reputation as a refuge for the persecuted.
Ms Suu Kyi was awarded the freedom of Dublin in her absence in 2000, while she was the international face of the Burmese freedom and democracy movement and was one of the world’s best-known political prisoners.
She was already a Nobel peace prize winner at that time, and has gathered countless other awards from international bodies and institutions, including Irish universities. She picked up her freedom award in person in Dublin in 2012, when she was feted by stars, including Bono and Geldof.
Since being released, she has failed to exert control over the Myanmar military, which has been responsible for decades of atrocities against the Rohingya people, but she has come under increasing criticism for refusing even to acknowledge any wrongdoing against them.
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